Provident Financial shares plunge as FCA launches auto loans investigation

Car-selling concerns rise for Moneybarn – a new FCA investigation is under way Shutterstock

Car-selling concerns rise for Moneybarn – a new FCA investigation is under way Shutterstock

Moneybarn describes itself as a "bad credit auto and van finance company" and advertises a "representative" April of 32.9 per cent.

Shares in embattled doorstep lender Provident Financial have plunged 12% on news its auto loan brand Moneybarn is facing a regulatory investigation.

The Financial Conduct Authority is looking into the treatment of customers of its franchise Moneybarn, the group said on Tuesday. That prompted chief executive Peter Crook to resign.

The embattled company said: "The Provident Financial group aims to act responsibly in all its relationships, and to play a positive role in the communities it serves".

Provident said in its statement that "the FCA has continued to discuss certain processes with Moneybarn and Moneybarn has made a number of progress improvements, including to the way it deals with future loan terminations", since the FCA authorised Moneybarn on June 3, 2016.

Greenwood said it wasn't clear yet whether there had been any wrongdoing, but for the FCA to investigate there must be some cause for concern.

Analyst's Rankings to Lookout: Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY), Globalstar, Inc. (GSAT)
After $0.90 actual earnings per share reported by Visa Inc. for the previous quarter, Wall Street now forecasts 7.78% EPS growth. The firm earned "Buy" rating on Wednesday, November 23 by Stifel Nicolaus. (NYSE:XPO) on Monday, November 6 with "Buy" rating.

In October, the firm revealed that it would book heavy annual losses at its consumer credit business, but claimed that it was making progress with a turnaround plan.

Provident Financial has about 2.5 million customers, and grew rapidly in the years after the financial crisis, stepping in to offer credit to people who could not secure loans from banks as they became more wary of risky lending.

The FCA is investigating Provident Financial's vehicle financing division, and how it determines the affordability of loans.

Neil Wilson, a senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said the investigation signalled "more trouble at the Provvy". "On that front the outlook is very uncertain".

The FCA is now carrying out a probe into auto finance as a whole during its look at high-cost credit.

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