Starling founder Anne Boden recently told TechCrunch that the U.K. challenger bank is on track to be profitable by Christmas, but this doesn't mean it isn't out raising additional capital already.
According to well-placed sources, Starling has hired Rothschild with the aim of raising a new £200 million round. The draw is its expected profitability, which one source says is already creating private equity investor interest. Starling declined to comment.
Having raised £363 million to date, including a £100 million state-aid grant, Starling now boasts 1.9 million customers. Since launching business banking in March 2018 and subsequently taking part in the U.K. government's bounce back scheme for struggling businesses hit by the pandemic, this also now includes more than 280,000 business accounts for sole traders and small to medium sized businesses.
In our recent interview with Boden to primarily talk about her tell it all book on Starling's founding, she told TechCrunch that her ultimate aim is to get to an initial public offering. "I didn’t do all this to sell out to a big bank," she told me. "I’ve got my sights on an IPO. I’d very much like to do that".
However, to just that will almost certainly require additional capital injections for the next few years to continue telling an appealing story for future public investors, which will include further U.K. expansion and making meaningful in-roads into Europe.
In the shorter term, we might also see some M&A activity. Speaking at the LendIt Fintech Europe 2020 virtual conference in October, Boden said that Starling is continuing to expand the SME side of its business and SME loans now make up the largest segment of its overall book (approaching £1.5 billion of lending). As part of this, she didn't rule out acquiring companies in the SME lending space.