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Bluestone appoints new Chairman

Bluestone appoints new Chairman ahead of next phase of growth

Specialist lender, Bluestone Group, has appointed leading Australian financial services expert, Mr. David Clarke, as Chairman.

Mr Clarke, who was formerly Chief Executive Officer of BT Financial Group, has had extensive experience in the financial and funds management marketplace during a career spanning over 25 years, including Group Executive of Westpac's Australian Business & Consumer Bank, Director of Lend Lease and Chief Executive of its subsidiary, MLC Limited, and Chief Executive of Lloyds Merchant Bank.

His appointment was announced today by Bluestone Group Founder and CEO, Mr. Alistair Jeffery, who said that Mr. Clarke would further strengthen the company's development in the non-conforming and equity release markets and provide valuable support for Bluestone’s next phase of growth.

"Mr Clarke succeeds retiring Chairman, Mr Evan Rees, whose advice and support over the past five years has been invaluable. We are delighted that Evan will continue to contribute to the business in his role as a non-executive director," Mr Jeffery said.

Bluestone provides specialist financial products to Australians and New Zealanders who fall outside the lending criteria of traditional lenders. The business has enjoyed strong growth since its launch in 2000 particularly amongst self-employed workers and the older community. Bluestone was recognised as Australia’s fastest growing company in the 2004 BRW Fast 100 awards, having originated over $2b in residential mortgages since launch.

The company recently appointed Caliburn Partnership to advise on potential liquidity alternatives, and has been responding to strong levels of institutional enquiry by holding a number of discussions with prospective cornerstone investors. Such an investment would be a potential alternative to an initial public offering, plans for which have been put on hold pending the outcome of the discussions.

Mr Jeffery said Mr Clarke's knowledge and experience would provide a substantial boost to Bluestone during its next phase of growth, which is likely to include further product and new business development.

"We are continually working on improving our product quality and operational efficiency, whilst identifying and accessing profitable new market segments and maintaining high levels of corporate governance. David’s decision to join the Group will substantially deepen the levels of experience within the business, and allow us to continue to focus on our expansion,” he said.

Mr Clarke said he was delighted to accept the invitation to become Chairman of Bluestone Group, having watched its strong growth during the past five years.

"I am very impressed by the way in which the management team has laid the foundations for what has become a thriving and dynamic business and whose product initiatives meet a real demand in the marketplace," he said.

"Bluestone now has over 170 staff operating in Australia and New Zealand and a flexible range of specialist financial products which are proving to be very popular and I look forward to joining the Board of Directors and assisting in expanding strategic horizons and implementing growth plans."

A Bachelor of Laws graduate, Mr Clarke started his career in merchant banking in 1979 at the National Bank of New Zealand, subsequently moving to Australia and then London where he became Chief Executive of Lloyds Merchant Bank and successfully restructured its business.

He joined Lend Lease in Sydney in 1993, where over a seven year period his experience across the Group's portfolio of global interests included property development and financial services, including the role of leading Lend Lease's Asia Pacific business operations. He was Director and Chief Executive of MLC Limited, building the Lend Lease subsidiary into one of Australia's leading funds management businesses.

Mr Clarke joined Westpac Banking Corporation in 2000 to lead the Banking & Financial Solutions business, subsequently becoming Group Executive of the Australian Business & Consumer Bank where he was responsible for understanding and meeting the needs of the Bank's business and consumer customers within Australia, and had overall responsibility for the development and distribution of products.

In 2002 he assumed responsibility for developing Westpac's expanded wealth management business, which included asset accumulation, investment management, life insurance and the New Zealand wealth management activities. He led the Bank's acquisition and integration of Rothschild Australia Asset Management and BT Financial Group, being appointed Chief Executive Officer of the expanded business where he was instrumental in BT's re-emergence as a successful business.

ENDS

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