Ally Financial is giving the world of credit cards another go. The auto-lending giant said it has agreed to pay $750 million for credit-card company Fair Square Financial. With the deal, Ally will be getting a business that has more than 650,000 cardholders who carry about $763 million in balances. 

Photo Credit: Bloomberg News

Ally has long sought a way to offer credit cards. The firm’s latest move comes after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the auto lender to abandon its purchase of CardWorks just months after it had agreed to pay $2.65 billion for the subprime credit-card provider. In 2019, Ally began winding down its own proprietary cash-back card that it had offered with Toronto-Dominion Bank. 

“The magic of 2021 is really no more than Fair Square was ready to sell and it fit in really well with our priorities,” Ally Chief Financial Officer Jennifer LaClair said in an interview. “We’ve been trying to figure this out for years and years.” 

The firm reported third-quarter revenue of $1.99 billion, missing the $2.03 billion average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. 

Ally said it expects the Fair Square deal to close by the end of the first quarter, with the acquisition adding to 2023 earnings. Fair Square, founded in 2016, has received backing from private equity firm Pine Brook as well as Orogen Group, an investment firm started by former Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit. 

Citigroup and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. provided financial advice to Ally, and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP served as legal counsel. JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised Fair Square along with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. 

“Our acquisition of Fair Square enhances our ability to continue delivering solid results and expanding our reach to even more customers,” Ally CEO Jeffrey Brown told analysts on a conference call. “Adding the credit-card capability has been an important objective for us. And today we’re announcing the opportunity to address this key product gap.”