BNP Paribas takes stake in SME lending specialist

Caple has sold a 10% stake to BNP Paribas to expand the capabilities of its loan platform.

BNP Paribas Asset Management (BNPP AM) has allied with a SME lending specialist to expand financing options available to European small businesses.

The asset manager said it has taken a 10 percent stake in Caple, which operates a platform linking institutional investors to companies that are seeking non-bank financing. Caple’s platform provides features to standardise loan terms and documentation.

Caple’s partnership with BNPP AM will form part of its SME Advanced Solutions platform, recently launched by David Bouchoucha, head of its private debt and real assets investment group. The platform is intended to source loans from multiple origination channels across Europe, then distribute them to institutions including pension funds and insurers.

Caple and other partnered lenders will be able to source loan opportunities from their own networks which will feed into the BNPP AM platform.

The platform will include a credit risk framework and focus on making senior unsecured fixed-rate loans of between €500,000 and €5 million, or sterling equivalents. It will target SMEs in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands before being offered more widely across Europe.

Dominic Buch, managing partner at Caple, said: “This alliance allows us to effectively address the significant gaps in the European funding landscape by offering access to alternative credit to complement traditional lending models.”

BNPP AM said the current disintermediation of the lending market and an increasing need for SMEs to access financing sources were providing opportunities for lending platforms that can offer alternatives to banks, making them attractive for investors.

“As institutional investors look to diversify their portfolios and generate higher levels of return than are available in public fixed income markets, they are increasingly attracted to the enhanced yields potentially available from SME lending,” explained Stéphane Blanchoz, head of SME advanced solutions at BNPP AM.