大约一周前，有消息称SoFi可能会推出房地产投资信托基金。而据我们现在了解到的情况，SoFi对冲基金已经正式面世。这家新公司（SoFi Credit Opportunities Fund LLC）将投资由SoFi平台发起的贷款项目，但同时也可能会从竞争对手平台购买贷款。《华尔街日报》指出，其实早在今年一月下旬， SoFi就已经向美国证券交易委员会提交了基金申请所需的Form D。
该基金与Lending Club的 LC Advisors基金相似，后者管理着超过10亿美元的资产，并被动选择购买平台自有的贷款。从某种意义上说， SoFi的新机构也类似Funding Circle SME Income Fund，它为投资者提供渠道以进入该平台的全球中小企业贷款组合。不过关键的区别在于，Funding Circle fund为上市载体。近期市场传言表明一家美国大型市场贷款公司正积极考虑在英国推出封闭式基金。
SoFi八月从SoftBank募集了10亿美元，公司市场估值在40亿美元。12月中旬，SoFi借款总额成功跨越60亿美元大关，而冲破40亿美元大关也是9月份才完成的。如此迅猛的增长速度需要持续增长的现金流随其增长，而Credit Opportunities fund无疑将会成为解决难题的一个重要部分。
Less than a week removed from the news that SoFi might be looking to roll out a REIT, we now learn that the platform has launched a hedge fund. The new vehicle – the SoFi Credit Opportunities Fund LLC – will invest in loans originated by the SoFi platform, but may, in time, come to purchase loans from its competitors. The Wall Street Journal broke the news yesterday evening. SoFi appears to have filed a Form D with the SEC for the fund in late January.
The fund launched in February with $15m in the pot, but SoFi CEO Mike Cagney has told the WSJ that its assets could quickly multiply to $500m or even $1 billion. The Credit Opportunities Fund will charge a performance fee of 25% on returns, but only after those returns top a hurdle rate of 3 percentage points plus the rates of short-term government debt. We understand that at least half of the fund’s capital may be deployed via other platforms.
The fund is not dissimilar in style Lending Club’s LC Advisors vehicle, which holds over $1bn in assets under management, and which buys a selection of the platform’s own loans on a passive basis. In a sense the new SoFi vehicle is also similar to the Funding Circle SME Income Fund, which provides investors access to the platform’s global SME loan portfolio. The crucial difference here, of course, is that the Funding Circle fund is a listed vehicle. Recent market rumblings would suggest that one of the big US marketplace lenders is actively considering a Closed End Fund launch in the UK.
SoFi has been at the forefront of capital markets innovation within the alternative finance space. The platform has been prolific in the securitisation space, and – as mentioned above – appears to be on the verge of launching a real estate investment trust, which would be a first within the global marketplace lending space.
SoFi offers great rates to great borrowers – as explained during a recent 30 second Super Bowl advertising slot. The model is a truly disruptive one, but one which requires a constant flow of low-cost capital in order to function effectively. That need has driven a unique and varied approach to fundraising.
The WSJ alluded to “waning investor interest” within the marketplace lending sector as the primary impetus behind the new SoFi fund. Market volatility, regulatory concerns (such as the Madden vs. Midland saga) and declining share prices in the online lending space could be contributing to this so-called decline.
SoFi raised $1bn from SoftBank in August, valuing the company at $4bn. The platform soared past the $6bn mark in cumulative lending volume in mid December 2015. The $4bn mark was topped as recently as Septemeber. So astronomical a rate of origination growth requires a constant flow of capital to keep pace with. The Credit Opportunities fund could become an important piece of the puzzle.