Legal & General appoints social housing expert
Legal & General has appointed Alex Gipson to originate and underwrite loans within its commercial lending team, as its looks for finance opportunities within the social housing sector.
Gipson (pictured) joins from the The Royal Bank of Scotland, where he spent over 27 years, latterly holding the position of director of housing finance within the structured finance team. There he was responsible for origination, structuring and execution of all new affordable housing transactions as well as in the delivery of complex funding solutions for existing clients.
Some notable transactions that he was involved in included funding the first project undertaken by English Partnerships under the LondonWide Initiative programme, Forest Gate Housing PFI and a significant number of local authority stock transfers.
He joins the three-strong commercial lending team that makes up Legal & General Investment Management’s Commercial Lending Ltd (CLL) business which, alongside him, combines approximately 60 years’ experience. His recruitment also shadows that of a number of significant appointments within LGIM’s credit team.
Ashley Goldblatt, head of commercial lending at Legal & General Investment Management, says: “With around 4.5 million people on housing waiting lists and one million children in overcrowded accommodation, coupled with the reduction in Government grants from this area, it is estimated that the funding gap for the social housing sector will reach approximately GBP20bn over the next five years. Whilst the banks have significantly scaled back their activity within this credit worthy area, Housing Associations are increasingly looking to the bond and private placement markets to fulfil their long term funding needs but finding that the barriers to entry and restricted flexibility of such have meant that only a very small percentage can directly raise money through this route. Indeed, out of 1,700 social housing organisations, a maximum two to three per cent are able to cost efficiently access the bond market in their own right.
“This is where institutions such as L&G, that are looking to provide bilateral funding, have an important role to play. We have had discussions with a number of Housing Associations and what has become very clear to us is that a ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work. With Alex’s wealth of experience in this sector, we now hope to structure bespoke solutions that not only meet our annuity book’s lending profile, but also provide social housing organisations with the flexibility that they need to achieve their long term ambitions.”