Debt buyer Encore Capital Group Inc. on Thursday reported that gross collections from its portfolio purchasing and recovery business grew 47% to $396.7 million in the first quarter ended March 31, compared to $270.2 million in the year-ago period.

Investment in receivable portfolios in Q1 totaled $467.6 million, to buy $4.3 billion in face value of debt, compared to $58.8 million to buy $1.6 billion in face value of debt in Q1 2013.

Total revenues in Q1 jumped 75% to $253.7 million, compared to $144.6 million in the year-ago period.

"These results show that we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to drive earnings growth and increase shareholder value, as well as to solidify our status as a leading international specialty finance company," said Ken Vecchione, Encore Capital's president and CEO.  "At the same time, we have strengthened our global footprint and diversified our portfolio."

Encore Capital, based in San Diego, has been actively acquiring international companies in the past year.
Last month, the company closed its acquisition of a controlling stake in Grove Capital Management, a management business that purchases credit portfolios with a focus on United Kingdom insolvencies and Spanish assets.

The purchase further builds Encore Capital’s UK presence and continues an international expansion shift among large U.S. debt buyers. Debt buyer Portfolio Recovery Associates, for example, agreed in February to acquire Aktiv Kapital AS, an Oslo Norway-based accounts receivable management company in one of the largest deals in accounts receivable management history.

Encore Capital in February announced a $481 million deal with UK-based debt buyer Marlin Financial Services and a $192 million deal with UK- and Ireland-based Cabot Credit Management.

"Following our recent acquisitions in the United Kingdom, we have become the largest unsecured debt buyer in the UK, and we now provide a full range of offerings to issuers. In Latin America, we continue to work with Refinancia to strengthen our foothold. And through our Propel subsidiary, our tax lien operation now encompasses 22 states.

Last week, Encore Capital's Propel Financial Services arm acquired a nationwide tax lien portfolio and servicing platform from a national acquirer of tax liens in an asset transaction valued at $43 million. According to company officials, the deal builds Propel's established servicing platform and expands Propel's reach to 22 states.

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