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SME lender CapitalFlow targets professional landlords with new credit licence

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Ronan Horgan, chief executive of Capitalflow. Photo: Andres Poveda Photography

Ronan Horgan, chief executive of Capitalflow. Photo: Andres Poveda Photography

Ronan Horgan, chief executive of Capitalflow. Photo: Andres Poveda Photography

Specialist SME lender CapitalFlow has applied for a retail credit licence as part of its plans to lend to private property investors, chief executive Ronan Horgan has said.

The Swords-based company has lent €260m worth of loans to 1,650 businesses across the country since it was established three years ago. It predominantly offers the likes of hire purchase, invoice discounting, refinancing and property lending to its clients.

If approved, CapitalFlow will come in line with rival specialist lender Linked Finance, which is regulated by the Central Bank.

Horgan said he was trying to build a €500m balance sheet over the next three years.

"The licence will allow us to lend to professional property investors in their own name, if your main occupation is something else we're not interested," he told the Sunday Independent.

"It's a demand that has come from the customers really. We'd also love to become part of the lenders out there who are regulated."

The application was made by McCann Fitzgerald on behalf of CapitalFlow in December, with a decision due on the matter by the end of March.

During the week, Horgan announced that he intends on advancing €300m worth of loans in 2019 alone, a significant ramping up of operations here. He also said that a further 20 staff will be added, bringing the headcount up to 90, and that a regional office in Co Cork will be opened.

CapitalFlow was acquired by London-based equity firm Pollen Street Capital in 2016. Since then the owners have pumped around €45m into the business. Horgan said he did not have any insight into how long Pollen would stay as investors in the business. "There will be an exit at some stage, Pollen will want to get their return back," he said.

Horgan also noted the increase in alternative lenders in the market, including a number of peer-to-peer operators. He stated that peer-to-peer lending was a product that the company may explore but that it was not on the horizon currently.

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He also claimed that problems can arise in peer-to-peer lenders when economic downturns begin to take shape.


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