In stunning collapse, SoftBank-backed lender Greensill files for U.K. insolvency

March 9, 2021, 9:18 AM UTC

Greensill Capital filed for administration in the U.K., capping a stunning collapse for the supply-chain finance company after key backers walked away over concerns about the valuation of its assets.

A hearing was held in London on Monday to review the submission, according to court documents. Lex Greensill’s eponymous company had been readying the filing since last week, after Credit Suisse Group AG froze and then later started winding down $10 billion of funds that bought products from Greensill. That decision set off a chain of events that also saw regulators in Germany shut down its local bank.

Greensill remains in talks with Apollo-backed Athene Holding Ltd. on the sale of its operating business, though any transaction will likely be at a fraction of the $7 billion valuation that the company had sought in fundraising talks last year when it was considering plans to go public. Athene is offering about $60 million for Greensill’s IT and intellectual property, the court documents showed.

Greensill unraveled in a matter of days once the lack of confidence began to sweep across the financial world. At the heart of the trouble are loans made by its supply-chain finance business. Greensill backers from Credit Suisse to Softbank Group Corp. and GAM Holding Corp. signaled doubts about the debt, upending the multi-billion-dollar empire. It also emerged that Softbank’s Vision fund had substantially written down its $1.5 billion holding in Greensill late last year.

Grant Thornton has been appointed as joint administrators, and is “in continued discussion with an interested party in relation to the purchase of certain Greensill Capital assets,” the firm said in an emailed statement. Bloomberg reported last week that Greensill was in the process of filing for insolvency.

Grant Thornton was also named as administrators to Greensill in Australia and is working closely with the U.K. administrators, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Some of the most high-profile drama took place in Germany, where regulator BaFin shuttered Greensill Bank AG and asked law enforcement officials to investigate accounting irregularities. BaFin spent months probing the bank’s exposure to companies linked to U.K. industrialist Sanjeev Gupta. Greensill said it was always transparent with auditors and regulators about its approach to classifying assets.

About 90% of Greensill’s revenues were derived from non-investment grade borrowers, according to filings from the court. The largest of those clients is Gupta, according to the documents. In a letter dated Feb. 7, Gupta’s GFG Alliance told Greensill that if it ceased to provide working capital for the firm, it would collapse into insolvency.

Pressure on Greensill ratcheted up as it lost its allies, with Credit Suisse freezing and then deciding to liquidate the family of funds that invest in Greensill-sourced loans, citing “uncertainty” about the valuations of some of the debt. The Swiss bank also last week demanded repayment of a $140 million loan it had made to Greensill. The firm was unable to do this and was therefore cash insolvent, the filings showed.

GAM also said it will begin shuttering its $842 million GAM Greensill Supply Chain Finance Fund and return investors’ money as it sought to end its dealings with the firm.

Separately, Apollo earlier on Monday agreed to acquire the about 65% it didn’t already own of Athene in a deal that values the firm at about $11 billion.