SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the largest fintech venture capital fund in the world is reported to be investing $800m in a UK-based supplier of alternative supply chain finance, thereby doubling its valuation to $3.5bn.
The deal will give SoftBank a 15-20% stake in Greensill which was founded in 2011 by US investment banker Lex Greensill with the aim of offering an alternative source of working capital finance to large companies. It counts former UK prime minister David Cameron, a friend of Greensill, as one of its advisers.
Greensill’s eponymous founder has stated that the underserved working capital finance market is worth more than $55trn and has described Greensill as “agents of technological disruption”.
However the company has also atrracted controversy as well as funding, including its loan of a corporate jet to a fund manager at Swiss firm GAM which led to the manager’s dismisal for contravening GAM’s gifts and entertainments policy.
Greensill has also forged close links with the UK government. Its founder was recognised in the 2017 honours list and during Cameron’s time as prime minister, Greensill had an office in Downing Street and he played a role in establishing a government-backed supply chain finance scheme in 2012.
The new funding from SoftBank is expected to be used to accelerate Greensill’s expansion into new markets in Brazil, China and India and development of new technologies.
The SoftBank Vision Fund is a subsidiary of the Japanese technology conglomerate and has close to $100bn of assets under management. Based in Dubai, it counts Apple, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and Oracle founder Larry Ellison as investors and is the biggest shareholder in Uber having invested $9.3bn in the online taxi firm.