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Thorn Financial merges with Limelight to create new fintech
Mon, 28th Mar 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Thorn Financial Services, whose brands include DTR and Thorn, has announced a merger with Limelight Software, a vehicle dealership management software provider, to form Limelight Group.

The newly merged company aims to provide integrated software, finance and finance-associated services directly to customers through the Limelight Software dealer channel.

The companies have worked together for more than three years, and Thorn's parent company Fox has held a minority share in Limelight Software since 2018. Motorcentral has operated the Motorcentral, Need A Car and BuyerScore brands and provides Dealership Management System (DMS) software used by more than 600 independent dealerships throughout New Zealand and manages more than $2.5 billion yearly vehicle sales.

The companies will create an integrated fintech company with the merger, embedding financial services in dealer management software to provide a native digital financing option for dealers and customers.

Mark Spring, currently CEO of Thorn Financial Services, will be CEO of Limelight Group, and the leadership teams will form the joint executive. The companies will combine resources from April 1st and will work as a single organisation to re-engineer the value chain for motor vehicle financial services.

The new entity will offer a range of digital solutions based on Limelight's SaaS offering for the motor vehicle industry. It will cross-sell other financial services and leverage the DTRS physical presence in 21 locations from Whangarei to Invercargill.

"Our two organisations have cooperated effectively since 2018 and grown our vehicle finance business by more than 60% year-on-year by responding rapidly to emerging opportunities in a fragmented market," says Thorn CEO, Mark Spring.

"Having seen the growth we've achieved to date as partners with a minority shareholding, we know we can grow the opportunity exponentially as a single entity. As a single fintech, we will now have full alignment that will allow us to grow even more aggressively, coupled with our combined resources and proven agility."

He says that the principal opportunity is in deploying fintech and datatech expertise across the motor vehicle financial services value chain to make it more efficient, personalised and less stressful for customers.

"We see it as our responsibility to disrupt it, removing the things that slow it down and make it irritating or stressful the friction and increasing its overall value for dealers and consumers."

Limelight Group will operate a range of brands offering a unique range of software and financial products and services for different market segments, including financing vehicles, appliances and household goods.

"As a new entity, we will have a common purpose, to make people's lives better by empowering them with intuitive solutions," says Spring. "Put simply, this is using our technology advantage to enable customers to enjoy the things that will make their lives better. For car dealers using Motorcentral to give them back time and gain control of their business. For end customers, it is to afford and enjoy the things that matter most to them."

Motorcentral is already well-positioned as a SaaS brand for independent motor vehicle dealers. The company says its combination with Thorn to utilise customer data, financial data and dealership data will align to deliver Limelight Group growth and success.  

"Nothing better illustrates what we can do together than how we will approach vehicle financing and assisting motor vehicle dealers with their businesses," says Motorcentral general manager, Mark Greenfield.

"By creating an ecosystem of technology and data within a dealership, centred around customer relationships, we can enrich the overall vehicle ownership experience, including financing."

The integration, including re-branding the group company as Limelight Group, will be carried out over the next two months while the transition plan is enacted.