'Aussie' John takes home $160m more from CBA

FAMOUS for rallying against the big banks 20 years ago, ''Aussie'' John Symond has netted more than $160 million by selling a bigger stake of his mortgage broking business to the Commonwealth Bank.

The country's biggest bank is to increase its holding in Aussie Home Loans to 80 per cent. It already owns a third of the mortgage broker.

The sale was for an undisclosed amount, but Fairfax Media believes the deal cost CBA more than $160 million.

CBA declined to comment, but said the price tag - which also gives it an option to move to 100 per cent - was not material to earnings.

Mr Symond will continue as executive chairman of Aussie and will retain the outstanding 20 per cent shareholding, while continuing to be involved in the growth and direction of the company.

With the catchcry ''we'll save you'', Mr Symond is widely known as breaking the banks' stranglehold on the home-loan market in the 1990s. Despite this, he said consumers would be oblivious to the ownership change, insisting Aussie's integrity will remain intact.

"Give it a month and ask the consumer in the street, they wouldn't have a clue who owns what," he said.

"They just want the best deal they can get.''

The investment by CBA was a great opportunity for the mortgage broker to accelerate its growth, he said.

Even with the business majority owned by Commonwealth Bank, Aussie will continue to sell home loans through its panel of 18 lenders.

Given the CBA chief executive, Ian Narev, played a key role in the acquisition of the stake in Aussie Home Loans in late 2008, analysts have long speculated that he was likely to move to a full buyout, or at least lift his holdings in the business.

However, banking analysts - who have valued Aussie at between $350 million and $400 million - treated the acquisition with caution, saying it would be hard to boost Aussie's profits in the face of a slowing mortgage market.

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