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SAV Credit

SAV Credit

April 2002

November 2011


Financial services

Kings Hill, UK

Specialist credit card issuer

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Business at time of investment

Early-stage business introduced as part of a consumer-credit thesis.

Investment rationale

Palamon’s identified the UK as an attractive macro-environment for specialist credit card businesses as there was a large and unaddressed non-standard credit card market in the UK consists of an estimated 21% of the UK’s adult population (approximately 8 million people) who fail the standard underwriting rules of mainstream issuers.

SAV Credit, established in 2001, pioneered specialist credit card lending in the UK, catering for consumers often overlooked by mainstream financial service providers.  Palamon backed the management team to develop the sophisticated under-writing techniques to operate profitably in this market and build out a market leading position.

Value creation

  • Supported the development of the business from its founder-led roots to the leading independent UK credit card issuer
    • Provided equity financing and brought in co-investor capital to fund the organic and inorganic growth phases of the business
  • Built out the management team: recruited new CEO, new CFO and senior executives and Non-Executive Directors
  • Risk management: Developed proprietary underwriting, targeting and line management models, building out the book to 150,000 accounts in three years.
  • Accelerated growth through M&A: Following a period of organic growth Palamon realised the opportunity to acquire non-performing portfolios in the challenging post-crisis markets
    • Acquired the Marbles portfolio from HSBC in October 2007 for £385 million and 338,000 accounts
    • Acquired large Citigroup portfolio in 2010, for £835 million in customer balances and 539,000 accounts.

Company at Exit

As a result of strict underwriting and credit management discipline, SAV thrived throughout the financial crisis, experiencing virtually no deterioration in its charge-offs while seeing profits grow rapidly as a result of its increased scale. By 2011, SAV Credit was built into the UK’s leading non-standard credit card provider managing 500,000 credit card accounts with more than £600 million in credit card assets.


On 3 November 2011, Palamon sold SAV to Värde Partners, a US hedge fund. The sale valued SAV at an EV of £472 million.

SAV Credit