This article was produced by Nabarro LLP, which joined CMS on 1 May 2017.
Nabarro has advised Business Loan Network Limited t/a ThinCats, the leading UK-based peer to peer lending platform focused on providing secured loans to SMEs, on the acquisition of a 73.4% stake in the company by European Speciality Finance Capital (ESF). Under the deal, ThinCats founder and Managing Director, Kevin Caley, will become chairman while co-founder Peter Brown will remain as finance director. ESF CEO John Mould will also become CEO of ThinCats.
Since its formation, ThinCats has facilitated over £142m in 541 P2P loans. The new capital from the deal will allow ThinCats to accelerate the growth of the business by investing in software development and marketing. Plans to recruit new staff with expertise in operational matters, risk, compliance, loan recoveries, IT systems and client communications are in place.
ESF Capital provides acceleration capital to peer to peer businesses in the form of strategic and operating resource, investment capital and speciality lending capital. Backed by leading UK and US institutions, ESF is focused on the SME lending market in Europe. ESF is an initiative of European specialist investment company ESO Capital Group, which in February 2015 agreed a deal for a £50 million underwriting facility to underwrite a regular series of large loans on the ThinCats platform.
The Nabarro team was led by Corporate partner Alasdair Steele and included Corporate senior associate Matthew Leake and associate Sylvia Elder. Stephenson Harwood advised ESF Capital.
Commenting on the transaction, Corporate partner Alasdair Steele said:
"Peer to peer finance is a fast developing area which Nabarro has long supported, particularly on the establishment of new platforms. We are especially pleased to have been able to work with the team at ThinCats as they further grow the business with the support of ESF Capital and underwriting arrangements from ESO Capital."
Nabarro is one of the leading firms for debt and equity platform establishment across multiple asset classes and recently has been involved with AltFi Data's report on "Crowdfunding: Where are they now?"