Mortgage

Higher reportedly cuts extra staff forward of SPAC merger

Better.com is reportedly continuing to shed staff as it awaits a special purpose acquisition company merger now a year in the making.

The lender, which has already spent up to $84.1 million in layoff expenses, cut approximately 920 workers in India, TechCrunch and local media outlets reported. The company allegedly offered voluntary separation agreements to its 2,100 employees in the country and pulled back after 90% of them initially accepted.

A representative for Better did not comment on the layoffs and only confirmed the company’s merger with Aurora Acquisition Group is still moving forward. Aurora, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week, did not confirm when the merger, announced a year ago last week, would take place.

Better CEO Vishal Garg is also personally liable for any losses stemming from SoftBank’s $750 million investment into the company last year, a bridge note that will convert into common stock within 45 days after the merger closes, according to SEC filings. He acknowledged the liability in an undated all-staff email, TechCrunch reported.

The company posted a net loss of $303.8 million in 2021, a decline it has partly attributed in SEC filings to the waning refinance market. Rising interest rates and declining originations have forced the industry’s biggest competitors to reduce headcounts, but Better’s layoffs have been among the industry’s largest and most dramatic.

The firm also attributes losses to negative media coverage from CEO Vishal Garg’s infamous Zoom firing in December to informing some terminated employees of their layoff via payroll.

Better added two new leaders in the past two weeks following executive and board member resignations in recent months. Harit Talwar joined the company in the newly-created non-executive chairman role after six years at Goldman Sachs, where he led the creation of the bank’s consumer lending product. Finance veteran Mike Julius also joined Better as head of capital markets, coming from 1842 Capital Advisors, an advisory firm he founded.

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