Packer and Murdoch invest in new lender

Two of the nation’s richest businessmen have invested in a new Australian lender through their respective media empires.

SocietyOne, Australia’s first and largest peer-to-peer (P2P) lender, has announced the successful completion of a Series B capital raise, with a consortium of eminent Australian investors made up of Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), News Corp Australia and Australian Capital Equity.

“This investment marks a new and exciting chapter for SocietyOne and for the acceleration of P2P lending in Australia,” SocietyOne co-founder and chief executive Matt Symons said.

“We are thrilled to partner with investors of this calibre with their unparalleled track record for building successful businesses in Australia and overseas,” Mr Symons said.

P2P lending, or marketplace lending as it is also known, is growing rapidly worldwide with considerable success in markets such as the United States and Europe.

Mr Symons said investors have been particularly excited by the significantly increased returns from removing the intermediary from the lending markets.

The largest P2P lender in the US, Lending Club, is now originating over US$1 billion in personal loans per quarter and is expected to launch its much-anticipated public offering before year-end. The listing will create a global benchmark for the new industry.

Speaking on behalf of the consortium of CPH, News Corp Australia and Australian Capital Equity, James Packer said, “We have seen first-hand the power of technology in reshaping the media industry and I am excited about the potential of technology, led by the team at SocietyOne, to help reshape the financial services industry in Australia.

“We see enormous potential in delivering significant savings to borrowers as well as providing new innovative products that will also be attractive to the investor market. Peer-to-peer lending is one of the global forces leading the transformation of banking by putting people, not intermediaries, at the centre of the borrowing and lending experience,” Mr Packer said.

The Westpac Group-backed venture capital fund Reinventure has also agreed to participate in the latest capital raising following its initial investment in February 2014.

SocietyOne uses a risk-based pricing approach and its proprietary ClearMatch technology platform to offer creditworthy borrowers a better deal and investors direct access to an attractive new fixed-income investment option.

Borrowers with good credit histories benefit from personalised rates that are generally much lower than standard credit cards and up to 5 per cent lower than personal loans from the major banks.

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