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Virgin Money boss boosts €2bn Funding Circle float

By Mark Kleinman, City editor
Funding Circle, the peer-to-peer lender on the verge of a ?2bn flotation, will this week strengthen its board by recruiting a director of Virgin Money.
Sky News understands that Geeta Gopalan, a former chair of the European arm of Monitise, the mobile payments group, has agreed to join Funding Circle as a non-executive director.
Her appointment will be disclosed in the prospectus outlining details of Funding Circle's initial public offering (IPO), which is expected to be published on Wednesday.Ms Gopalan will become the P2P lender's second female board member when it goes public, adding further fintech experience to the board of a company which is launching one of the City's most closely watched floats this year.She will also join the board of CYBG, the owner of the Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks, following its takeover of Virgin Money.Funding Circle said earlier this month that it would go public, reaping big paper gains for its founders and outside shareholders such as the fund manager Baillie Gifford, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings and Perscitus, the family investment vehicle of Jon Moulton, the veteran financier.Anders Povlsen, a Danish billionaire who owns stakes in Asos, the online fashion retailer, and Numis, the City broker, has agreed to anchor Funding Circle's float by buying 10% of the company up to a maximum valuation of €1.65bn prior to an expected €300m fundraising.Assuming the process concludes successfully, shares in Funding Circle will begin‎ trading on London's main market next month.Funding Circle is the leading small business lending platform in markets including the UK, US and the Netherlands, having made loans to SMEs in excess of €5bn, with €1bn in the first half of this year alone.The float, which is being handled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Numis Securities, will nevertheless have to overcome scepticism about the wider prospects for the P2P sector, which has been fuelled by the poor performance of Lending Club on the US stock market.
Launched in 2010, Funding Circle has matched lenders to tens of thousands of small business borrowers in the UK, US and Europe.Its pitch to borrowers is that it offers rapid and flexible financing, truncating the traditional process on which they would have depended from mainstream banks.The company's rapid growth has earned it the status of one of the UK's few fintech "unicorns" - companies which have achieved a prized $1bn price-tag.Funding Circle was set up by executives including Samir Desai, who remains its chief executive.They identified opportunities offered by new technology to provide access to finance for businesses frozen out by mainstream banks, while also promising superior returns to investors.The company has since struck partnerships with Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander UK.
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Funding Circle is chaired by Andrew Learoyd, a former Goldman Sachs banker, who has been involved with the company since its launch.It declined to comment on Tuesday on Ms Gopalan's appointment.
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