SoftBank-Backed Greensill Buys Colombia Fintech to Grow in LatAm
(Bloomberg) -- Greensill Capital, a firm backed by SoftBank Group Corp. that helps businesses fund their operations, is acquiring Colombia-based Omni Latam to speed up growth in Latin America.
The closely held fintech companies didn’t disclose a price for the all-stock deal, which is aimed at helping London-based Greensill expand into Latin America, including Brazil and Mexico, according to Greensill. Omni provides working capital to small and midsize businesses in Colombia and Chile, and Greensill offers supply-chain finance globally, making loans companies use to pay their suppliers.
“We realized Latin America requires very special skills, and yet at the same time the region has a very significant working-capital gap that we estimate to be on the order of $750 billion,” Greensill founder and Chief Executive Officer Lex Greensill said in an interview. “So we found a company, a team, a technology that is a perfect fit considering the values and the approach of the Greensill organization.”
Omni, founded in 2018 in Bogota, has provided about $300 million in digital working-capital products to small and midsize businesses that supply large companies in Chile and Colombia. The firm collects data such as invoices and tax forms to help make credit decisions based on the prospective borrower’s clients, sales and employees.
“We don’t ask for the company’s financial statements, which will only tell you about the past,” Omni CEO Diego Caicedo said. “We’re seeing the movie in real time here,” he said, adding that “small companies’ situations change very fast, and in a world in a pandemic crisis like today, it changes even faster.”
Corporations’ “digital footprints” are easy to collect because Latin America is a global leader in providing electronic data for corporations, Caicedo said.
Greensill said he met Omni founders Caicedo and Andres Abumohor for the first time in New York in December, and struck a deal in less than six months.
Caicedo spent most of last year meeting with funds and other institutions, and said there was always one name that popped up: Lex Greensill. He was eventually introduced by Luis Cervantes, head of the Mexico office for private equity firm General Atlantic, which invested $250 million in Greensill in July 2018.
Greensill also received two investments from SoftBank’s Vision fund, one for $800 million in May 2019, and another in October 2019 for $655 million.
Greensill, which was founded in 2011, last year provided $143 billion of financing to more than 8 million customers and suppliers in more than 175 countries. Volume in the first four months of 2020 more than doubled from a year earlier because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the company.
The firm, which employs former British Prime Minister David Cameron as an adviser, distributes part of the credit it generates to more than 100 investors, financing some of it through its German lender, Greensill Bank AG.
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