Greensill Capital has filed for insolvency protection in Britain after funds that had invested billions of dollars in the financial startup’s securities withdrew their support.
Greensill securitized the “supply chain” cash-advance loans it made to its clients, with funds managed by Credit Suisse and GAM Holding AG investing in the notes. But last week, the two Swiss investment banks shut the funds down after Greensill lost its coverage from a credit insurer.
As part of its insolvency filing on Monday, the company founded by Australian billionaire Les Greensill in 2011 confirmed that the loss of the $4.6 billion contract with Australian insurer BCC triggered its collapse.
“The insurance was crucial because it made Greensill’s assets appear safer to Credit Suisse’s institutional investors, some of whom are restricted from putting cash into riskier investments,” The Wall Street Journal reported. According to the Journal, “the Credit Suisse and GAM funds could face losses if Greensill’s clients aren’t able to pay back their supply-chain finance loans.”
More than 50% of the investors in the Credit Suisse funds were based in the U.S., including blue-chip companies and government agencies. As a supply-chain lender, Greensill pays its clients’ suppliers early, but at a discount, making its profit when the client pays off the full amount. It also lends money to clients, secured on invoices the clients themselves are owed.
“Large banks such as JPMorgan and Citigroup also offer supply-chain finance, but Greensill streamlined the tech and was particularly adept at the securitization of the invoices,” Financial Review said.
Greensill’s staff grew to more than 1,000 employees in 2020 from 600 the year earlier. It has also acquired a string of fintech businesses in the past 18 months.
Accountancy firm Grant Thornton said it had been appointed administrator of Greensill’s two core U.K. companies and had agreed in principle to sell the intellectual property and technology platform for processing client payments to U.S. private equity group Apollo Global Management for $60 million.
“Apollo will use [its insurance affiliate] Athene Holding to fill in the funding gap for some, but not all, of Greensill’s clients,” the WSJ said.