Czech company PPF seeks to divest its Home Credit consumer finance business in China

Czech investment group PPFcontrolled by the wife of billionaire founder Petr Kellner, who died last year, aims to divest its flagship consumer finance business in China and focus its acquisitions on Europe, chief executive Jiri Smejc said.

PPFwhich made a profit of 239 million euros ($251 million) last year and had assets of 42.2 billion euros, is also keen to find partners for its Home Credit consumer credit operations. in Southeast Asia to get cheap and stable funding, he said.

“We are trying to find a strategic partner there (in China) who will get the majority and then take full control of the business because we believe that without that it is impossible to operate in China under the current conditions” , Smejc told reporters.

He said the band will see how it progresses over the next six months.

China was once a key market for Home Credit, one of the world’s leading consumer finance companies. It grew rapidly there over the past decade before being hit by the pandemic, tougher regulations and access to finance.

The Home Credit group lost 303 million euros last year and 584 million in 2020.

PPF wanted to develop real estate credit in India, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, but needed partners with banking licenses to guarantee access to cheap financing from deposits, which were more stable than the markets, said said Smejc.

He said the company was in talks without naming the parties.

PPFwhich has investments in financial services, telecommunications, media, mechanical engineering and biotechnology, was looking for private equity or family office partners to raise funds for acquisitions in Europe, Smejc said.

“We want the center of gravity of our investments to be in Europe,” Smejc said, adding that PPF wanted to expand more broadly outside the Balkans, where it is heavily invested.

Smejc, a longtime Kellner business partner who died in a heli-skiing accident, took over PPF this month as part of a deal that gave him stock options for 10% PPF shares.

He reiterated that the company would leave Russia completely.