Wingate takes stake in Fifo Capital Australia, offers $2bn to SMEs for post COVID recovery

Farrel Meltzer, left, with Charles Goode and Tony Burgess. Picture: David Geraghty

 

Wingate, the Melbourne-based finance and investment house, will step up the flow of credit to Australian SMEs that are rebuilding their businesses in the wake of the COVID pandemic, after acquiring a significant equity interest in trade and supply chain finance provider Fifo Capital Australia.

The partners, which have been working in a joint venture since late 2019, plan to offer more than $2bn to Australian SMEs and corporates by 2023, after they agreed to introduce a further $50m of finance into the venture alongside Fifo’s $1.5bn of current lending.

“The business finance market is in excess of $80bn, and our observations of the current landscape have shown there is a strong demand predicted for working capital solutions in a COVID-19 environment and beyond,’’ said Wingate’s head of corporate investments, Kevin Wunsh.

Wingate was founded by its current managing director, Farrel Meltzer. “These types of opportunities reflect the broader dynamic and demand we are seeing from both businesses and co-investors,” he said. “Our recently launched Corporate Credit Fund, which provides corporate lending to businesses, was oversubscribed by 140 per cent and is now almost fully deployed.”

Supply chain financing schemes involve suppliers to a corporation discounting their invoices or paying interest in exchange for prompt payment of their invoices. Abuse of the schemes by some major corporations has been criticised over the past 18 months by regulators.

But ACCC chair Rod Sims has stressed that if properly and fairly implemented, the schemes can be good for small businesses.

Fifo Capital Australia CEO Wayne Morris said Wingate’s investment would enable Fifo to rapidly grow and position itself as a key player in alternative working capital and cashflow finance.

A fortnight ago, Wingate revealed it would partner with Rich Lister property developer Tim Gurner to develop a 1.3ha supersite at Surfers Paradise previously owned by failed developer Ralan.

Mr Gurner, a Wingate client, plans to build up to 600 apartments, a hotel and resort amenities on the site overlooking Budds Beach, in a project that could be worth more than $600m.

Meanwhile, another major Wingate client, the Tarascio family-backed Salta Properties, has seen its managing director Sam Tarascio appointed the new Victorian President of the Property Council of Australia.

Mr Tarascio has served five years on the Property Council’s Victorian division and has been a member of several advisory committees and working groups within industry and government.

Salta Properties owns and manages a large portfolio of blue-chip commercial, industrial and retail properties, and maintains a pipeline of over 5000 apartments.

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