Onward restructures to create foundation for growth

To improve financial and operational efficiency, the Onward Group has restructured, consolidating subsidiaries Hyndburn Homes, Ribble Valley Homes and Peak Valley Housing Association.

Each housing association has transferred its engagements into Liverpool Housing Trust, which has subsequently been renamed Onward Homes Limited.

The Group is one of the North West’s largest housing associations and now owns and manages more than 35,000 homes.

The restructure follows the formation of a common board in 2017 to unify governance. The move will simplify treasury arrangements, with a reduction of gross borrowing of £90m, enhancing financial efficiency and value for money.

Centrus acted as financial advisor to Onward Homes and law firm Devonshires advised on the corporate and financing aspects, including the property security elements which will underpin the new financing arrangements.

Lisa Oxley, Executive Director of Finance & ICT at Onward, who led the project said: “The completion of this restructure combines the strength of our legacy organisations and enables more flexibility to deliver on new exciting opportunities in the changing housing sector.

Both Centrus and Devonshires have demonstrated a deep commitment to understanding who we are and what our short and long term objectives were. We achieved a successful team ethic at a strategic and transactional level to deliver an outcome which exceeded our expectations.”

John Tattersall, Director at Centrus, commented: “Onward has transformed its treasury position, radically increasing flexibility and freedom to operate, enhanced value for money, and secured a robust platform from which to deliver new homes and services. Whilst negotiations were complex the process has retained significant economic value in historic financing relationships, obtained desired covenant freedoms, and places the organisation well to grow into the future. We have been delighted to work with Onward in successfully reaching this outcome.”

Gary Grigor, Partner at Devonshires added: “The financing aspects of this restructure were complex. We had to secure upfront consent from incumbent funders to permit the intra-group merger and negotiate and advise on new and restated financing arrangements for circa £226m of debt with revised covenant requirements to reflect the larger entity and Onward Homes’ future operations. The group will now benefit from a much simpler financial structure and more efficient partnership, enabling them to boost the delivery of new homes and improve services.”

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