SoftBank invested $655m in supply chain finance provider Greensill. The deal is part of the burgeoning alternative lending space within fintech.

The $98.6bn SoftBank Vision Fund of the internet and telecoms conglomerate SoftBank invested $655m in UK-based business finance provider Greensill. The commitment was disclosed along with the announcement of Greensill’s acquisition of FreeUp, a UK-based fintech company which makes it possible for workers to receive wages for work done before their ordinary payday. The company will use the fresh funding from this latest round to boost further international growth. SoftBank is a returning investor and the transaction reportedly valued Greensill at nearly $4bn. SoftBank’s Vision Fund had already invested $800m earlier this year, reportedly at a $3.5bn valuation. More interestingly, the announcement of the investment came after the Vision Fund had to supply a $9.5bn financing package for co-working space provider WeWork and after it became clear that SoftBank was set to write down between $5bn and $7bn from investments in highly valued portfolio companies like WeWork and ride hailing service provider Uber.

Founded in 2011, Greensill provides supply chain finance to a range of clients across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, working with financial services firms and institutional investors to supply the capital. Greensill has extended more than $150bn in financing to date, covering more than 8 million clients across 60 countries. It also owns Germany-based commercial lender Greensill Bank, having acquired and rebranded financial services firm NordFinanz Bank in 2014. It has also set up a vehicle known as Supply Chain Finance Fund, which has $3bn of assets under management.

Greensill is part of the broader alternative lending space within the booming fintech (more on which you could read in the upcoming monthly issue of GCV magazine). That space has been targeted by corporate venture investors in recent years, as our GCV Analytics chart here shows. In 2017 and 2018, we tracked 58 corporate-backed rounds in this area, with the total estimated capital around $2.4bn-$2.5bn in both years. In 2019, by the end of October, we have already reported 53 deals, worth and estimated total of $2.14bn.