West Kent Housing Association (WKHA) has undergone a root and branch restructuring of its financing, saying this will better support its investment plans and services to residents.
The refinancing and debt restructuring exercise has seen the organisation secure funding with multiple lenders, providing loans of £224m on improved terms, and £175m of new funding on what it says are “innovative” terms.
Faced with the “current unpredictable market”, WKHA says the new agreements will provide improved financial resilience, allow it to facilitate quick pricing and quick routes to market, and help deliver investment in new and existing homes, as well as services to residents.
WKHA has the ambition to continue to grow to 10,000 homes alongside investing in its current portfolio to ensure their homes better meet residents’ current and future needs.
Maria Organ, the housing association’s executive director of finance, said: “We have undertaken a comprehensive overhaul of our treasury arrangements for the first time in 10 years, to address the unprecedented challenges we are currently seeing in the financial markets, and to support the increasing demands for investment in new and existing homes, whilst supporting our transition plans to provide housing for our residents that is net-zero carbon.”
Lenders involved in this exercise were Lloyds Bank, Scottish Widows, NatWest, The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC) and Allied Irish Bank (GB).
All lenders have worked with WKHA to provide flexible funding arrangements that support the housing association to access loan finance in the current unpredictable financial markets.
Dharmesh Patel, associate director of housing finance at NatWest, said: “NatWest is dedicated to supporting our customers and communities, and it is fantastic to be able to support the organisation with a finance package that will help it to invest in energy-efficient homes in West Kent. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the team at West Kent Housing Association and seeing the organisation thrive on the next stage of its journey.”
Gavin Richards, relationship manager at THFC said: “I am delighted to continue and expand upon our long-standing relationship with West Kent, a customer of the THFC Group for over 10 years. This new loan agreement through bLEND, our market leading bond issuing company, will support West Kent in its ambition to deliver new, energy efficient and affordable homes to countless families throughout Kent. It has been a pleasure working with the West Kent team and their advisors at Savills on this deal, and I look forward to seeing what West Kent will achieve.”
Itaca Passaggio, director of the social housing team at Allied Irish Bank (GB), said: “West Kent is at the forefront of providing prosperous, strong and sustainable communities in Kent and we are delighted to have played our part in the restructure of their treasury portfolio. We look forward to supporting West Kent in its continued ambition to invest and grow.”
These deals were supported by Savills Financial Consultants and Anthony Collins Solicitors.
Mike Roche, director at Savills Financial Consultants, said: “We are thrilled for West Kent to complete this extensive financial restructuring, allowing them to maximise the number of affordable homes they build and minimise energy costs in their existing homes.
“This multi-tenor funding structure has a bit of everything and is well matched to what West Kent needs over time. It is flexible while allowing West Kent the ability to go to the capital markets quickly when the time is right.
“This approach is an evolution in the market and is definitely something we expect other housing providers to explore in the current more challenging funding environment. We are grateful to the West Kent board and leadership team for their commitment to work with funders to agree the new consistent covenants that underpin this deal.”
Natalie Singh, partner at Anthony Collins, added: “It has been brilliant to have worked alongside West Kent on this ambitious refinancing and debt restructuring exercise. Not only will this exercise support West Kent’s liquidity requirements, but it will also support West Kent to deliver more homes in its communities and to achieve its net zero carbon objectives.”
Main image: New homes being developed by West Kent Housing Association in Sittingbourne, Kent
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