German Varengold Bank Acquires 20% Stake in Klear

Germany’s Varengold Bank AG has agreed to acquire 20 percent of Klear, a Bulgaria-based p2p lending platform in the emerging FinTech segment in Southeast Europe (SEE). The two sides have already signed an agreement under the terms of which the shares are expected to be transferred till the end of the second quarter of the year.  Varengold Bank AG is a German private bank, headquartered in Hamburg. Founded in 1995 as an asset management boutique seeking to offer individual and high-performing financial products for private and institutional clients. In 2013, Varengold was granted a commercial banking license when it transformed into to fully fledged commercial bank.

This is Varengold Bank’s first investment in a P2P lending platform, based in the SEE region. The German bank opened a branch in Sofia in November 2018 with the mission to turn it into a major hub for its expansion in Southeast Europe.

Varengold Bank will support the development and growth of Klear with a BGN 1.5 million financial package, which comprises of equity and debt funding. The proceeds from the package will be used to expand Klear’s operations across Bulgaria and SEE.

Varengold previously already dealt with p2p lending marketplaces, e.g. extending a credit line to Estonian marketplace Estateguru.

Klear provides individuals with the opportunity to lend loans and generate a return on investment and others to borrow quickly and easily at reasonable interest rates. So far, 1175 active investors have provided 938 loans through the lending platform at the amount of more than BGN 8 million.

Klear was founded by Loic Le Pichoux, Lukasz Lukaszewski and Nikolay Stanev, entrepreneurs with solid experience in consumer finance, with the idea to be fairer and more transparent in terms of interest rates and return on investment. It has been named The Best FinTech Startup in Bulgaria at the Central European Startup Awards two times in a row – in 2017 and 2018. An interview with the founder from Januar 2017.

“When we enter in partnerships, we seek proven marketplace business concepts with growth potential along with unwavering commitment from the company’s principal owners towards the mission of their organization. We look for strong teams and leaders that are ready to take and share risks in a responsible manner and want to scale up their operations globally. The business case of Klear fully fits these requirements. Supporting the development and growth of P2P lending platforms and FinTech players like Klear is one of Varengold’s key priorities in Bulgaria and SEE. These marketplace platforms are growing and expanding their operations. They are reshaping the conventional approach in the financial industry and will step-by-step replace traditional ways in lending, simply by providing significantly more favourable terms and conditions to borrowers, improving access to funds for consumers and also making raising funds more affordable. This is a fundamental change on the market and we are satisfied to take part in it actively, said Sergey Panteleev, General Manager of Varengold Bank`s Sofia Branch.

Tikehau Capital Buys Credit.fr for 12 Million Euro

Tikehau Capital today announced it has completed the acquisition of Credit.fr, a French p2p lending service for small businesses , for an amount of 12 million EUR. Incubated since March 2015 by Truffle Capital and under the leadership of Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, its chairman since November 2015, Credit.fr has established itself as a player in the small and mid-sized companies (SMEs) alternative financing market.
This acquisition enables Tikehau Capital, a  company active in the corporate lending and private debt market in France, to consolidate and expand its lending platform by bringing its corporate financing solutions to smaller businesses and SMEs. Through Credit.fr, Tikehau Capital will enable its wide network of investors and partners to broaden their investment policy, currently focused on medium-sized and larger companies, to include smaller businesses rigorously selected by Credit.fr teams.

Since its creation, Credit.fr has financed 217 companies, raising a total of over EUR 13 million, through 13,000 loans from retail clients willing to support the real economy while securing an attractive return. Credit.fr has also established numerous partnerships with financial sector players, including HelloBank!, the first French bank recommending its clients to invest on a p2p lending platform nearly a year ago.

Guillaume Arnaud, Managing Director of Tikehau IM, said: “We have been monitoring SME crowdlending platforms in Europe for some time now, particularly in France, where the market has strong growth potential. The acquisition of Credit.fr provides us a unique smaller business lending knowhow and allows us to expand our range of financing solutions and therefore address most of French companies.”

Thomas de Bourayne, CEO of Credit.fr added: “With its renowned asset management expertise and strong growth, Tikehau Capital represents the ideal partner for Credit.fr to develop in France and internationally. This deal will enable us to offer institutional investors solutions for investing in a new asset class and support the development of small French businesses.” Continue reading

Trustbuddy Acquires Geldvoorelkaar and Prestiamoci

Trustbuddy has entered into an agreement to acquire Italian Prestiamoci, a long-term Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lender, for a total of EUR 5.3 million in order to strengthen its offering of business loans to small and medium-sized enterprises and consumer credit in most European countries.

Furthermore TrustBuddy has agreed to acquire Dutch Geldvoorelkaar for a consideration of EUR10.6m. The consideration comprises EUR 3 million cash, EUR 4 million through the issue of new shares at a 20% premium to the pre-announcement share price and a EUR 3.6 million vendor loan of which 50% is redeemed in January 2016 and 50% redeemed in January 2017. Shares issued as part of the consideration will be subject to lock-up restrictions which expire in January 2016 in respect of 50% of the shares and January 2017 for the remainder.

Both acquisitions remain subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions. In particular, the acquisition of Prestiamoci is conditional upon Prestiamoci receiving a payment services, PSD, license. The Company is currently considering various financing options, including a potential equity fundraising, to part finance the acquisitions.

Geldvoorelkaar (see earlier coverage)

Geldvoorelkaar is the first P2P lending platform with a credit licence issued by the Dutch Financial uthority (AFM).  Geldvoorelkaar offers a professional and established alternative source of financing for SMEs.

  • Geldvoorelkaar opens up European SME market opportunities to TrustBuddy. Management believes there to be substantial demand for alternative lending sources in the Nordic market in particular in P2P lending in the Netherlands.
  • Geldvoorelkaar has been fully operational since 2012 and has a c60-65% estimated market share.
  • Year to date, Geldovoorelkaar has funded EUR 20 million of SME loans with an average revenue margin approaching 6% with no active marketing.
  • Geldvoorelkaar is a strong SME platform with EUR 1.6 million expected revenue for 2014 and growth in the Netherlands expected at an average of 80% in the following two years.*
  • Geldvoorelkaar is already profitable with an expected earnings before interest and tax for 2014 of EUR 0.7 million
  • Subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, TrustBuddy has agreed to acquire Geldvoorelkaar for a consideration of EUR10.6m. The consideration comprises EUR 3 million cash, EUR 4 million through the issue of new shares at a 20% premium to the pre-announcement share price and a EUR 3.6 million vendor loan of which 50% is redeemed in January 2016 and 50% redeemed in January 2017. Shares issued as part of the consideration will be subject to lock-up restrictions which expire in January 2016 in respect of 50% of the shares and January 2017 for the remainder.

Prestiamoci (see earlier coverage)

Prestiamoci is an Italian private P2P lending company focussing on long term consumer loans.

  • Prestiamoci has established a licenced P2P platform in the highly regulated Italian market. The acquisition is conditional on Prestiamoci obtaining EEA-wide PSD license approval, enabling European roll-out.
  • Prestiamoci re-launched its platform in May 2014 and has since funded EUR 175k with and average revenue margin of 4%.
  • Acquisition adds diversification to TrustBuddy’s existing offering into a product with lower regulatory risk and increased revenue visibility.
  • Prestiamoci’s seasoned management team joining TrustBuddy management will bring significant experience within credit risk assessment.
  • TrustBuddy expects to rollout a consumer instalment loan product in new markets in 2015, and envisages 80% of revenue from this new product from the Nordic markets.

In September 2014 Prestiamoci had concluded a financing round of 450K EUR and in October 2013 a previous capital increase of 550K EUR. According to sources, Digital Magics Angel Network ,which invested just a year ago and provided strategic support in refocusing Prestiamoci, achieves a gain of about 300% on the transaction. Continue reading

TuitionU acquires p2p lending service GreenNote

TuitionU.com, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cology Inc., today announced the acquisition of GreenNote (see earlier description), a p2p lending service for student loans. The agreement enables TuitionU.com to add peer-to-peer lending technology to its student loan options. TuitionU says not-for-profit credit unions that are currently featured will be joined in the future by foundations, charities, corporations and other community lenders to further enhance the network.

(Source: press release; related: Netbanker article)