Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, or BaFin, said in a statement on Wednesday that it had ordered Greensill Bank “be closed for business with customers,” citing an “imminent risk that the bank will become over-indebted.”
Greensill was founded by Australian financier Lex Greensill in 2011 to shake up the world of supply chain finance, which involves making early payments to suppliers to help them finance their daily operations. The firm got a big boost in 2019, when Masa Son’s SoftBank Vision Fund invested $1.5 billion.
Greensill generated $420 million in revenue in 2019, a 79% jump compared to the previous year. Its clients include steel titan Sanjeev Gupta, and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron has served as an adviser.
Lawyers for Greensill on Monday told a court in Australia, where the company has been fighting to retain credit insurance, that trouble at the company could cause clients to default on their debts and jeopardize 50,000 jobs. Greensill is headquartered in London and has offices in cities such as New York, Sydney, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Bogotá and Geneva.
Greensill said in a statement on Wednesday that it is in talks to sell “large parts” of its business and assets under management to a “leading global financial institution.” Private equity giant Apollo Global Management is looking to strike a deal, according to media reports. Apollo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The move by BaFin could complicate any potential agreement. The regulator said a “forensic audit” of Greensill Bank had uncovered issues on its balance sheet tied to assets from GFG Alliance Group, the conglomerate that holds Gupta’s business interests.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Greensill Bank has at all times been transparent with its regulators and auditors about its approach to classifying assets and the methodologies for determining such classifications,” the company said in a statement to CNN Business.