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UK digital bank Starling eyes potential 2022 float as losses narrow

UK digital bank Starling eyes potential 2022 float as losses narrow
By Reuters
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By Anna Irrera and Iain Withers

LONDON - British digital bank Starling said on Thursday it was on track for full-year profitability after narrowing its losses, and could float on the stock market at the end of 2022.

Launched in 2017, Starling is one of Britain's most prominent financial technology companies. It has fared better than some of its peers during the pandemic by expanding its business lending through state-backed emergency schemes.

Starling posted a loss of 23.3 million pounds ($32.04 million) for the 16 months to the end of March 2021, less than half its loss during the 12-month period to November 2019.

CEO and founder Anne Boden said the bank could float at the end of 2022 or early in 2023, but the company was not in a hurry despite proposed changes to UK rules to make it easier for founder-led companies such as Starling to go public.

"It's our decision rather than following the pack," Boden told reporters. A source familiar with the plan said Starling would likely list in London.

The bank's lending rose to 2.2 billion pounds, while customer account numbers more than doubled to 2.1 million and deposits grew to 5.8 billion pounds ($7.97 billion).

Revenue rose by nearly 600% to 97.6 million pounds from 14 million pounds for the previous period.

The bank said it broke even in October 2020 and has recorded a profit every month since.

"The most significant milestone for us was achieving (monthly) profitability in October last year," Declan Ferguson, Starling's deputy chief financial officer and chief strategy officer said. "We are very much on track to post full year profitability."

Earlier this year, Starling raised 50 million pounds ($69 million) from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The investment was an extension of Starling's oversubscribed 272 million pound funding round, valuing the bank in excess of 1.1 billion pounds ($1.51 billion).

"Starling is pulling away from the rest of the Fintech pack," Boden added.

($1 = 0.7273 pounds)

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