Regular readers will be aware, after AltFi brought you the news last week, that Harsh Patel has left Victory Park Capital to ‘pursue other interests’ leaving the Chicago-based asset manager without a representative fully-based in London.
The firm, while US-based, manages the £382m VPC Specialty Lending Investments fund – a closed-ended investment trust listed on the London Stock Exchange. The overall executive investment management of the fund comes out of Chicago but about a quarter of the portfolio's exposure is in the UK/Europe.
Currently, the fund’s exposure across platforms is: 22.8 per cent in Avant; 11.6 per cent in Funding Circle UK; 10.6 per cent in Borro; 10 per cent in Prosper; and 9.8 per cent in Funding Circle US loans. The overall portfolio has a weighted average coupon of 16.25 per cent (18.64 per cent marketplace and 12.96 per cent balance sheet) and life of 20 months. It provides exposure to 567,466 loans with an average size of $3,943.
Leech was, until his move to VPC, an analyst at investment bank Liberum and more recently was director of alternative finance. Previously to this he was a banking analyst at JP Morgan and Royal Bank of Scotland and also worked for two years at consultancy firm McKinsey.
A spokesman for VPC told AltFi: "Cormac has been appointed as a Principal at VPC and will act as a representative for the company in London. He is expected to start in September and will be involved in all aspects of our work, and of course VSL. We are delighted to welcome Cormac and his expertise on board."
Simon Atkinson, head of the Liberum Alternative Finance team, declined to comment on Cormac but said that “we continue to be committed to supporting our existing ventures and clients in the broad Alternative Finance sector and acting as a strategic development partner for new ventures.”
Leech said: “Despite the recent unhelpful setbacks seen at Lending Club, the future of financial technology remains bright.
I remain optimistic about the outlook for VSL and the other UK direct lending investment trusts, and excited to be joining VPC.”
Patel, who was Principal at Victory Park, previously ran a multi-billion dollar portfolio of alternative debt at Abu Dhabi Investment Council as well as previously working for Citi Group as a credit analyst.
VPC recently announced that it would be moving more of the capita of VPC Speciality Lending Investments into balance sheet lenders rather than marketplace lenders
The trust was launched back in March 2015 and like many of its peers such as P2P Global Investments, it initially moved to a hefty premium. However, due to a ramp up in bearishness in markets in general in 2016 and more specific concerns around p2p and maketplace lending, it now sits on a near 20 per cent discount.
According to AltFi Data, VPC Speciality Lending had outperformed the broader UK marketplace lending space, as measured by the Liberum AltFi Returns index (the LARI) since its launch back in March 2015 until recently.
Performance of VPC Speciality Lending NAV since launch vs LARI
The trust is on a discount of 17.6 per cent to net asset value, which converts to 12-month backward looking yield of 9.7 per cent.