P2P property lending platform hires former RBS exec

By Roger Baird on Tuesday 15 January 2019

Alternative Lending

BLEND Network said its new appointment will expand its borrower relationships and upgrade its due diligence.

Peer-to-peer property lending platform BLEND Network has hired a former Royal Bank of Scotland executive to boost its management team.

The London-based firm said it has appointed Paul Watson as head of origination, whose role will be to “foster new borrower relationships” and boost its due diligence operations.  

Watson has worked across residential and commercial property for 15 years, and has experience of dealing with fund management of residential income portfolios, new acquisitions, and development management.

BLEND added that Watson also brings “significant experience of the property market outside of London”, which it says fits in with its strategy of concentrating on properties outside the capital.

One of the platform’s area of focus is the north of England, where it said it directs funds to “small-and-medium-sized affordable housing developers, which are typically overlooked by mainstream lenders”.

Watson last role was for real estate lender Octopus Property, where he was senior development finance originator. Prior to that he was senior development manager at Churchmanor Estates in Ipswich, where he was responsible for the development of the £25m Chequers shopping centre.

He also spent five years at Royal Bank of Scotland’s real estate management division as an investment manager. Watson began his career at global real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, where he was as a surveyor.

BLEND co-founder and chief executive Yann Murciano said: “We are delighted to welcome such an experienced property professional as Paul to our growing senior team. He has a breadth and depth of experience across real estate sectors as well as extensive regional expertise, which will significantly help us scale the business.”

Last month the platform completed £10m of fundraising, which included such notable investors as Cyrus Ardalan, Chairman of OakNorth Bank and Ctigroup Global Markets as well as Jean-Phillippe Blochet, co-founder of leading macro hedge-fund Brevan Howard.

BLEND said it has lent £5m to 20 projects across Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north of England with an average fixed return of  just over 12 per cent year, since the business was launched in January 2018.

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