How Business Fuel worked with GCI to grow their business

“At Business Fuel we are passionate about helping Australian businesses and we were looking for a partner that understood our vision and shared our values”

Wade Doblo, MD Business Fuel

Client Overview

An early-stage finance company, Business Fuel was established in 2012 as a small business lender based on the Gold Coast.

They started their business with funding provided by high-net-worth (HNW) investors and within 5 years quickly grew their loan book with consistent credit quality.

In 2018, the management team decided they were ready for further growth and needed a larger wholesale debt facility.

Challenges

However, Business Fuel was below the scale of being able to attract the attention of mainstream wholesale funders and needed a partner with a product designed to bridge the gap.

Being a nimble team, GCI was able to provide a quick answer on how we could help Business Fuel and soon after raised a special purpose vehicle to fund the $25m facility.

In early 2020, bigger challenges emerged as Business Fuel’s book experienced significant distress as the global COVID-19 pandemic took hold. By May 2020, around 30 arrears peaked at 15.6% of the book, which was significantly higher than our base case expectations of 8-10%.

By taking a longer-term view on the fundamentals of the business, GCI worked proactively with management during this time to renegotiate the facility, providing covenant relief while negotiating additional protections for our investors. As part of this, GCI allowed Business Fuel to repay part of the facility without penalty, assisting Business Fuel in significantly de-risking its position.

This support gave management the confidence to work through the unprecedented challenges in the best possible way ensuring success, not only for Business Fuel but for GCI’s investors as well.

Results

We were pleased to see that by August 2020, their arrears position dropped to 3.1% and the facility balance to $7.45m.

Recognising that most loans impaired by COVID-19 related disruptions had been cured and that performance in the book had stabilised (and even improved from GCI’s original expectations), we then sought to refinance the position into the GCI Commercial Finance Fund.

Providing Value Added Credit

In March 2022 Business Fuel announced that they had entered into an agreement to be acquired by ScotPac, a large non-bank working capital provider.

With their assistance, Business Fuel was able to refinance GCI’s facility with a warehouse line from one of the big four banks.

The Business Fuel example shows how our team was able to bring their local and international financial and entrepreneurial expertise to provide our client with an innovative and flexible funding structure.