Lex Greensill rose from working on his family’s melon and sugar cane farm in Australia to roaming the skies in a private jet. The ascent has been far from smooth.
His London-based Greensill Capital has revamped the humdrum business of supply-chain finance, a kind of lending that speeds up payments between companies. The 44-year-old financier says the firm provided $150 billion to businesses and customers in 175 countries last year. But some view him as an aggressive risk taker who’s often pushing the boundaries in an area of finance less regulated than traditional banking. Now he’s considering a round of fundraising that would value his company at about $7 billion and his stake at more than $1.5 billion. That’s just a steppingstone to his ultimate aim: going public and rivaling the world’s biggest financial companies as a short-term lender.
Greensill Capital has been embroiled in scandals involving some of the biggest names in global finance. Loans it helped to arrange were the focus of conflict-of-interest accusations last year involving Credit Suisse Group AG and Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group Corp. Others were at the center of a 2018 crisis at Swiss asset manager GAM Holding AG that brought down a star trader. And Germany’s financial regulator is scrutinizing a bank Greensill owns for its heavy concentration of loans to British metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta.
Greensill, who hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, says his company has ongoing discussions with all of its regulators. A spokesman says the bank has reduced its concentration of loans to Gupta but declined to comment about SoftBank, GAM, or Credit Suisse. “We’re doing things a little different to what’s been done before, and that’s always going to kind of garner attention and commentary,” Greensill says from his home in northwest England. “I recognize by doing that, it does from time to time make us a target.”
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