First National will continue to operate as an independent operation following its sale last week to GE Consumer Finance, the consumer credit arm of the General Electric Company.
Spokesman for GE Consumer Finance, Ivan Royle, said: ‘First National will be run as a separate entity, and we will be maintaining its brand.’
He said there were no plans to incorporate First National with GE Consumer Finance’s other UK mortgage operation igroup. Royle said: ‘igroup has been run as a successful standalone operation and we expect to do the same with First National.’ As such, he said First National’s premises and 1,400 staff would not be affected.
The sale was completed for a consideration of £848m, and offers Abbey National investors good news ahead of the company results to be announced on 26 February. The sale is part of Abbey National’s disposal programme, with further announcements expected concerning First National’s motor finance arm and litigation funding operation.
Stuart Sinclair, UK group managing director of GE Consumer Finance, said: ‘Our experience to date in the UK has been positive, with strong growth experienced by each of our mortgage retail finance and auto finance business.’
He stressed interruption to business would be as minimal as possible and added: ‘Senior management teams are working closely to ensure continuity for both customers and intermediaries.’
Philip George, managing director of First National, commented: ‘The acquisition is good news for us. It will offer our business the financial strength to continue the expansion of our products and¦we will be able to create a UK consumer finance business that will provide an unrivalled service to both intermediaries and customers.’