SoftBank-backed online lender SoFi eyes IPO

Company has raised $3B since 2011

SoFi CEO Anthony Noto (Getty; iStock)
SoFi CEO Anthony Noto (Getty; iStock)

Online lender Social Finance, or SoFi, is the latest SoftBank-backed startup to eye a public offering through a blank-check company.

The San Francisco-based company has held talks with several special purpose acquisition companies about an IPO, reported CNBC. SoFi did not comment.

CEO Anthony Noto, a former Goldman Sachs banker, has previously said that going public is a goal. SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son has publicly said he expects several of the Vision Fund’s investments to go public in the next year.

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SoFi appears to be capitalizing on a hot IPO market, fueled in part by special purpose acquisition companies. United Wholesale Mortgage and Finance of America are two lenders going public through SPACs. Some 208 blank-check companies have raised $70 billion so far this year, according to SPAC Research.

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Rocket Companies, the parent company of Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans, also went public in August. On Wednesday, the stock closed just over $21 pr share, up from its IPO price of $18.

This year, SoftBank-backed insurance startup Lemonade went public, as did Beike Zhaofang, a Chinese real estate platform. iBuyer Opendoor and View, a smart-glass maker, are planning SPAC IPOs. Compass recently hired bankers ahead of a potential IPO next year.

Founded in 2011, SoFi found a niche after the 2008 financial crisis when many banks pulled back on consumer lending. It has raised $3 billion from investors including SoftBank, which provided $1 billion in 2015.

The company was most recently valued at $4.3 billion, after raising $500 million from the private equity firm Silver Lake in 2017. Last year, it raised $500 million at the same valuation from the Qatar Investment Authority.

[CNBC] — E.B. Solomont