Capitalflow bought by Bunq in deal worth €141m

Ronan Horgan, CEO of Capitalflow

Sean Pollock

Capitalflow, a specialist business lender founded in 2016, has been acquired by Bunq in a deal valued at around €141m, according to the Dutch challenger bank’s owner.

The deal, which was announced last week and is pending regulatory approval by the Dutch financial regulator, is set to give Capitalflow improved access to funding at competitive rates and increase its scale. It plans to advance over €1.2bn in new lending over the next three years to Irish SMEs and property investors.

British private equity firm Pollen Street Capital, which owned Capitalflow, took a 10pc stake in Bunq for around €193m, valuing it at €1.6bn. Bunq owner Ali Niknam told Reuters the capital would be used to acquire Capitalflow Group of Ireland for roughly €141m as part of its growth strategy.

Ronan Horgan, chief executive of Capitalflow, said he hoped to grow the Irish business to 100 staff, up from 60, following the deal. He said he hoped to add more people on the technology and lending front.

“It’s our ambition to become a substantial business lender in the Irish market,” he said. “That’s our number one goal and you can’t do that without a good team around you.”

Horgan hopes to make Capitalflow a credible alternative business lender to the pillar banks.

“This really sets us up as a real challenger and business lender in the Irish market,” he said. “It brings us up a few notches from where we were before. [The deal] means you have a really good combination between a tech digital bank and an SME lender in the Irish marketplace that really understands what it is like to lend to various different SMEs right across the sectors.

“The combination of the two is really powerful. It brings a new type of competition and choice.”

Horgan said Capitalflow had invested heavily in its digital platform over the past 18 months, which will help it to scale. He also hopes to add additional products in time that appeal to business customers and potentially look at products for personal customers.

According to Horgan, Capitalflow had its best months since it started over May and June as the economy reopened. To date, it has advanced over €650m to Irish SMEs and has around 3,000 business customers on its books.

Bunq is a fully licenced challenger bank rival to Revolut and N26 that charges customers a subscription for services. It operates in 30 markets and is available in Ireland.

With Bunq’s backing, Capitalflow will have access to up to €1bn in Dutch retail savings, enabling it to cut its pricing while expanding lending volumes.

Horgan said the deal with Bunq would help to boost Capitalflow’s offering.

“The first thing this will do is allow us to do more of what we do really well,” he said. “With bank funding comes more competitive terms. We will be able to scale the business.”

He added: “We will be able to compete with the banks in the local market. We will be competitive on rates and the ability to respond to customers needs. It’s all based on demand.”

Capitalflow provides flexible finance options through its digital platform to companies, mainly SMEs, looking to grow and scale their business. It is headquartered in Dublin, with offices in Santry and Baggot Street.