By Oliver Smith on Tuesday 17 November 2020
‘Project Prada’ is revealed.
Launching Starling Bank was actually the second time that Anne Boden had gone about raising millions of pounds for an ambitious new venture, the CEO and founder revealed at the AltFi Festival of Finance last week.
Teased in her new book Banking On It, where it’s referred to as “Project Prada”, Boden looked to spin off the transaction banking arm of ABN Amro.
Boden worked as Amro’s executive vice president of Europe for the transaction banking arm between 2006 and 2009, and in her book says she launched a takeover bid before joining AIB as chief operating officer in 2012.
“I’ve never actually spoken publicly about it,” she told attendees of the AltFi Festival of Finance.
“RBS bought ABN Amro, and I was running the transaction bank in ABN Amro that [covered] 34 countries, everywhere from the UK through western Europe out to Kazakhstan and Dubai.”
“That was a great business and I felt that RBS were not very good at running it, to be honest, they weren’t an international bank,” explained Boden.
Her solution was to raise “hundreds and hundreds of millions of pounds” to buy the transaction bank off of RBS, however there was just one problem.
“RBS wouldn’t sell it to me. This was the opposite story [of Starling], this was the situation where I had the money but couldn’t get the business. Starling was the opposite, we had the business and the opportunity, it just took a long time to raise money.”
Ultimately Boden’s bid fell apart, but in doing so laid the groundwork for Starling’s creation.
In Banking On It, Boden’s earliest contacts who helped pull Starling together at the very start came from her earlier failed acquisition, including KPMG SVP Michael Carolan and Rothschild managing director Ed Griffin.
Read more: AltFi's Banking On It review