A cloud hangs over the UK housing market as the UK government stumbles slowly through its negotiations to leave the European Union. But startups that are bringing innovative twists to housing finance seem to be singing a different tune.
Today, LendInvest, a peer-to-peer platform that connects property buyers in the UK with people willing to finance those purchases (bypassing traditional mortgage lending infrastructure in the process), announced that it has raised around $39.5 million (around £30.5 million) in a Series C round of funding led by existing investor Atomico, which participation also from GP Bullhound and Tiger Management (founded by hedge fund investor Julian Robertson).
The plan will be to use this funding to continue to develop its technology and grow business into more the traditional (and bigger) mortgage business. A spokesperson for the company says there are no plans to extend beyond the UK market for now.
LendInvest is currently profitable, albeit modestly, with Ebitda of about $2.8 million on gross group revenues of $70 million in the 12 months that ended in March of this year, and it says this round is likely to be the last before it lists publicly.
“Having recorded a fourth consecutive annual profit, raising capital wasn’t a necessity for LendInvest but by beefing up our balance sheet and bringing on some very experienced additional investors, we are well placed to capitalise on opportunities in the future,” said Christian Faes, cofounder and CEO of LendInvest, in a statement. “Using technology LendInvest is building a new kind of financial services business, and an extremely scalable platform, which is changing the way mortgages are funded and work in the UK.”
LendInvest is not disclosing its valuation with this round (we’ve asked) but for some context, back in 2015 it was valued at $103.25 million, according to data from Pitchbook. At the time it was generating only around one-quarter of the revenues it’s making now, although with a higher Ebitda margin — meaning that it’s valuation now is likely to be much higher.
LendInvest says that it has raised over £1 billion to date. But to be clear, LendInvest counts both the funding it has raised through its investment platform, and that from outside investors such as in this round, when it gives that figure. According to PitchBook, it has raised around $152 million from VCs and other firms.
The remainder, meanwhile, is one indicator of the platform’s success to date.
LendInvest currently helps property buyers pick up bridging finance, development finance and also finance for buy-to-let properties, and it says it has lent nearly $2 billion (£1.5 billion) across 5,000 properties in the UK since it was founded in 2012.
It’s competing against the established route that property buyers take in the UK today when searching for finance. Today, this is primarily banked around established banks and mortgage lenders, along with brokers and others in the value chain that help match people with interest rates and institutions willing to give them money.
As with a number of other peer-to-peer lending platforms, LendInvest has worked out algorithms that can bypass some of the more laborious and expensive processes of established routes, with the promise of faster financing and an alternative way for investors to try to make more from the money that they have.
P2P has proven to be a compelling alternative route to borrowing money, whether it is for purchasing property or something else, sometimes to great success for the startup at the center of the transaction. Another UK startup, FundingCircle, which provides P2P lending for small businesses, is gearing up for an IPO in London where it could raise £300 million and be valued at £1.5 billion.
“We continue to be impressed with LendInvest’s progress in disrupting the established lending industry,” said Atomico partner Mattias Ljungman, about returning to lead this latest round. “Since our initial involvement the business has invested heavily in its proprietary technology, successfully moved into Buy-To-Let and launched the FinTech sector’s first LSE listed retail bond programme. We are excited to work with LendInvest as it continues with its high-growth trajectory and look forward to seeing what the future holds for the business.”