The Church of England has sold its indirect stake in payday lender Wonga, worth less than £100,000, ending its embarrassing link to the firm it has repeatedly criticised.
In a statement yesterday the Church’s commissioners confirmed that the stake it had held via an investment in a pooled portfolio fund with Accel Partners had been sold for no profit.
“The Church Commissioners for England are pleased to announce that their indirect investment exposure to Wonga in their venture capital portfolio has been removed. The Church Commissioners no longer have any financial or any other interest in Wonga,” the Church said in a statement.
In 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, criticised payday lenders as being “very, very costly forms of finance” and called for tighter regulations around their practices.
While the Church’s stake in Wonga was revealed last July the commissioners yesterday said it had taken a year to remove its exposure to the firm or risk a loss of between £3m and £9m if they had immediately sold their entire holdings with Accel.
“The Commissioners are pleased that another way forward has been agreed given their fiduciary duties to clergy pensioners and to all the parts of the Church they support financially,” the Church said.
The Church of England’s entire investment portfolio is valued at around £5.2bn.