Sunday 11 March 2018 9:48 am

Peer-to-peer platform Funding Circle appoints bankers ahead of potential float

British unicorn Funding Circle has appointed bankers to lead an initial public offering (IPO) which will likely value it at more than £1.5bn, according to reports.

The peer-to-peer lending platform has appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and London-headquartered Numis Securities to broker the deal, according to Sky News and Bloomberg.

The company will reportedly aim for a valuation of between £1.5bn and £2bn in a float which could happen in the second half of the year.

Funding Circle provides a platform for smaller lenders to small business borrowers, with over £4bn in loans provided so far to businesses in the UK, the US, Germany and the Netherlands. Some 42,000 companies have borrowed money through its platform, with the bulk in the UK.

The firm has grown from £50,000 lent out in its first month to more than $200m (£144m) every month, and in December passed the $5bn lending mark.

The firm in May gained authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority to launch an Innovative Finance Isa, which allows investors to earn tax-free income on peer-to-peer lending activities.

Current equity investors include blue-chip tech investor Accel Partners and investment giants Baillie Gifford and BlackRock. Singaporean state-backed Temasek is also a backer, along with tech venture capital firm Union Square Ventures.

Funding Circle has raised around $250m of equity capital since 2010, including an £82m fundraising round in January 2017 which was the fifth biggest tech venture capital deal in the UK during the year.

It is part of the booming UK fintech scene which raised a combined total of £2.5bn last year.

Funding Circle declined to comment.