The European Investment Bank Group (EIB) through the European Investment Fund (EIF) has announced that it will provide €18.5 million to back a joint investment fund designed to lend money to SMEs through crowdlending platform Lendix. The EIB is the European Union’s bank, owned by and representing the interests of the European Union Member States.
The deal was officially announced on Monday 3 July 2017 at Lendix’s Parisian headquarters, in the presence of Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Ambroise Fayolle, EIB’s Vice-President, and Olivier Goy, the CEO and founder of Lendix.
This is the second deployment of EIF funds through a lending marketplace to support small businesses, after a 2016 investment in Funding Circle of the UK. It is the first marketplace lending investment in Continental Europe, and as such a welcome rebalancing of financing towards Continental European businesses in the post-Brexit European Union.
The French Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno Lemaire welcomed the deal as consistent with the priorities of the French Government to support SMEs, innovation, and Europe.
“This investment sends a strong signal: through the EIB Group, the European Union is active in France, helping to finance innovative, promising projects. We are committed to our entrepreneurs. This EU capital will strengthen the impact of the French Fintech start-ups, a sector of excellence of which Lendix is one of numerous examples. It is the very symbol of Europe investing in its future.”
Thanks to the EIB Group’s participation, the investment fund associated with the Lendix platform now has a total capacity of €90 million. It will be dedicated to financing the development of French, Spanish and Italian SMEs ‒ the markets served by Lendix, with the dual benefit of enabling investors to diversity their investments and business project owners to raise money more effectively. It will undoubtedly accelerate the growth of Lendix, who is already the front-runner among SME lending platforms in France, with nearly €100 million lent to date.
EIB Vice-President, Ambroise Fayolle declared:
“This is a new and very promising source of financing for SMEs and project owners in Europe. One of the key priorities of the EIB Group is to support investors and businesses in development projects which foster growth and employment. We are delighted to be the EU partner of a leading Fintech such as the Lendix platform and to help develop crowdlending. I hope that lots of investors join us to provide new financing in support of businesses.”
Ambroise Fayolle reminded the audience that the investment fund is an extra addition to the Juncker Investment Plan which has already helped more than 380,000 SMEs, with Italian and French SMEs as top beneficiaries. Thanks to the EIF, more than 37,000 businesses have been supported in France, helping to create or preserve 150,000 jobs.
Olivier Goy thanked the many members of the audience who contributed in various ways to the success of Lendix. He reminded them of the role of the French regulators who made crowdlending possible. The message was well received by Nathalie Beaudemoulin, coordinator of the FinTech Innovation cluster at the financial services regulator, ACPR, and Franck Guiader, director of the FinTech, Innovation and Competitiveness at the market and securities regulator, AMF.
Further, Oliver Goy thanked the Lendix team. He also acknowledged the entrepreneurs who borrowed money through the Lendix platform, two of whom were present and shared their experience. He thanked the 18,000 retail investors and the many institutional investors who put their trust in Lendix ‒ including the French public investment bank, Bpifrance, CNP Assurances, Groupama, Zencap AM, Matmut, and the Eiffel Investment Group, the latter represented by Guillaume Panié and Jean-Benoît Gambet.
“We are thrilled to welcome the EIB Group on board as a lender on Lendix. In addition to retail and institutional investors, we are now seeing leading public institutions join us in support of the real economy”, Olivier Goy declared.
In the wake of the recent announcements of acquisitions of Lendix’ competitors, crowdlending platforms Lendopolis and Credit.fr by larger financial services firms, the announcement of the EIB’s investment and the supportive presence of the Minister of Economy and Finance at the event were received as additional signs of optimism for the French SME lending sector.
Therese Torris, PhD, is a Senior Contributing Editor to Crowdfund Insider. She is an entrepreneur and consultant in eFinance and eCommerce based in Paris. She has covered crowdfunding and P2P lending since the early days when Zopa was created in the United Kingdom. She was a director of research and consulting at Gartner Group Europe, Senior VP at Forrester Research and Content VP at Twenga. She publishes a French personal finance blog, Le Blog Finance Pratique.