Private equity investors have agreed to buy 25 percent of subprime auto lender Santander Consumer USA for $1 billion.
Santander Consumer USA, which is owned by Spain's Banco Santander, has more than $14.5 billion in contracts outstanding. More than 90 percent of the volume is with franchised new-vehicle dealers, mostly for used cars.
Santander Consumer USA has more than doubled the size of its loan portfolio since 2009.
Santander Consumer USA, of Dallas, is a preferred lender for Chrysler Group dealers, providing subprime and near-prime loans for new and used vehicles. It also offers subprime loans directly to consumers online, under the trade name RoadLoans.com.
Santander Consumer USA grew through acquisitions, such as the purchase of Triad Financial Holdings in October 2009. Last year, it also completed the takeover of the former auto loan servicing operations of HSBC Finance Corp. and part of HSBC's auto loan portfolio.
The lender's new investors are investment funds affiliated with Warburg Pincus, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Centerbridge Partners. Neither Santander nor the new investors would comment further, pending the deal closing, which is expected by year end.