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Peer2Peer Finance News | May 26, 2019

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Downing acquires business P2P lender Funding Empire

Downing acquires business P2P lender Funding Empire
Marc Shoffman

BUSINESS peer-to-peer lender Funding Empire has been acquired by the company behind Downing Crowd.

Funding Empire, which launched in 2012 as the first crowdfunding platform in Wales, had stopped new lending in 2016 and its platform will be kept live until all outstanding loans are repaid.

Downing had already adopted Funding Empire’s technology in October 2016 and has also worked with the founders, Parag Patel, Jon Levy and Dinesh Patel, to launch Downing Crowd’s own in-house investment platform.

Funding Empire had stopped new lending in 2016 after a management buyout by its senior executives as they awaited full Financial Conduct Authority regulation.

But instead, Downing LLP – the parent company of Downing Crowd – made an offer to purchase the platform in 2017, with the takeover approved last year.

Funding Empire’s full regulatory status was transferred to Downing at the end of January 2019, the FCA register shows.

Investors will not be automatically moved over to Downing Crowd, but are being offered a special rate on their first bond investment.

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Funding Empire’s technology and operations will continue to be based in Downing’s new technology hub in Cardiff, which is home to 10 employees and complements the 140-strong workforce in its London office.

“Some areas of the P2P market have been attracting headlines for all the wrong reasons recently but Funding Empire has long since stood out to us for both its excellent track record, as well as its clear technology expertise,” Julia Groves (pictured), head of Downing Crowd, said.

“We feel this acquisition brings together the best of both worlds – the innovative technology of a P2P platform business with the scale and long track record of an investment management firm, with over £1bn of funds under management.”

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Funding Empire’s statistics page shows investors have backed 70 loans, with four still to be repaid.

Its loanbook, worth £727,000, is almost fully repaid, with £70,000 remaining, while investors have been earning 10.53 per cent on the loans.

Funding Empire managing director Parag Patel will now take on the role of operations director at Downing Crowd.

“We’re extremely pleased to have found a group that aligns with our views on investor protection, transparency and customer service,” he said.

“Downing is in a great place to capitalise on the hard work Funding Empire’s founding team put into the technology platform.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Downing over the past two years and we look forward to an even closer partnership in future.”