Buyout firms circle A$1bn Australian lender

KKR and GE Capital have reportedly teamed up to bid for RAMS, an Australian mortgage provider valued at about A$1 billion, as private equity firms and banks clamour for exposure to the booming Australian housing market.

A number of private equity firms and banks have reportedly bid up to A$1 billion ($831 million, €611 million) for Australian lender RAMS Mortgage Corporation.

US buyout firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and GE Capital have submitted a joint bid of about A$1 billion, according to Bloomberg, while Australian banks Westpac and Macquarie and US buyout firms The Carlyle Group and TPG have also made bids for the mortgage company.

Challenger Financial Services Group, Pacific Equity Partners, and Nikko Principal Investment Australia have also made bids, the newswire added.

Bloomberg said prospective buyers were sent sale documents in mid-March for Sydney-based RAMS, which offers loans through branches and mortgage brokers. The business has forecast earnings before interest and tax of A$82.5 million for 2007.

The Australian housing loans market is in demand after Australian house prices climbed 8.3 percent last year. The market is believed to be a far safer investment than the US equivalent because sub-prime mortgages only account for 1.2 percent of the market, as opposed to 20 percent in America.