Houlihan Lokey Advises IMF Bentham

Houlihan Lokey is pleased to announce that IMF Bentham Ltd. (ASX:IMF), a leading provider of funding for litigation and arbitration claims in Australia and other jurisdictions, has acquired Netherlands-based Omni Bridgeway Holding BV (Omni Bridgeway), a privately owned provider of funding for litigation and enforcement proceedings (primarily in Continental Europe and Central Asia) for up to €87.5 million (A$141 million). The deal closed on 7 November 2019.

Omni Bridgeway was founded in 1986 with a focus on distressed debt trading and legal workout, becoming a leading litigation funder today with global operations and regional offices in Amsterdam, Cologne, Geneva, Dubai, and Singapore. Omni Bridgeway has a worldwide client base, including leading law firms, banks, insurers, governments, and multinationals.

Omni Bridgeway's strength and experience lies in providing funding and services for enforcement cases and nonperforming assets, focusing on civil law jurisdictions primarily in Continental Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

In FY 2018, Omni Bridgeway had revenue and other income of €20 million (A$32 million) and net profit of €5 million (A$8 million), with capitalised investments in a claims portfolio of €34 million (A$55 million) and claims value under management of more than €2.5 billion (A$4 billion).

The acquisition of Omni Bridgeway symbolises the completion of IMF Bentham’s initial five-year plan to diversify risk, amongst other things, through geographic expansion and sourcing capital from third parties. The acquisition is expected to accelerate IMF’s growth and create a major diversified global litigation funding platform across common law and civil law jurisdictions in both developed and emerging markets.

Omni Bridgeway complements IMF’s infrastructure, and the acquisition is expected to create the most comprehensive global platform for sourcing investment opportunities and expanding service offerings. Omni Bridgeway’s fund management structure is consistent with IMF’s strategy and continues IMF's transition from a principal investor to a fund manager.

The acquisition is expected to provide IMF with the expanded sourcing capacity and geographic footprint into the second largest litigation market in the world, and IMF expects to enhance its capacity to commit investments to its various active funds, accelerating the economics for investors and IMF as manager.

Omni Bridgeway brings to IMF the opportunity for sourcing enforcement investments and operating the Middle East and North Africa Distressed Asset and Recovery Program (MENA DARP), which would not otherwise be available to IMF.

The MENA DARP is an investment partnership between Omni Bridgeway and International Finance Corp. (part of the World Bank Group) that is designed to assist banks in the MENA regions with funding and cross-border legal enforcement of high-value (i.e. greater than US$2 million) corporate nonperforming loans.

The combined IMF/Omni Bridgeway group will have a footprint in the three largest litigation markets—the United States, Europe, and Asia—in a way that is unique in the industry.

IMF has purchased Omni Bridgeway for €87.5 million (A$141 million) in total consideration.

Houlihan Lokey served as the exclusive financial adviser to IMF Bentham. This transaction highlights the firm's capabilities in cross-border M&A, bespoke transaction structuring, and specialisation in the financial institutions sector.

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