ATHENS/NEW YORK, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Greek payments company Viva Wallet is seeking to raise half a billion euros to support its digital banking operations, two sources told Reuters, eight months after securing a banking licence through a merger with Praxia Bank.
The Athens-based company has hired Jefferies to advise on the 500 million euro ($590.15 million) fundraising which will offer investors stakes in a new legal entity which will take on all Viva Wallet’s banking loans, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Viva wants to be a neobank without a loan book,” one of the sources said, adding the proposed deal has got a green light from regulators in Europe.
Representatives at Viva Wallet and Jefferies declined to comment.
If successful, the deal could provide a new way for small start-up banks in Europe to manage their loan books, making it easier for these challenger digital lenders, known as neobanks, to raise money.
Launched in 2005 by chief executive Haris Karonis, Viva wants to sell loans on its books to a so-called special purpose vehicle (SPV) within 24 hours from finalising them, removing the risk from its balance sheet, one of the sources said.
This new structure shows how local financiers in Greece have had to rethink traditional bank funding after the country’s debt crisis and also fallout from the coronavirus pandemic to help to regain the trust of customers and investors alike.
Neobanks have become popular in Europe and elsewhere among customers and private investors which have invested significant amounts of capital into the sector.
Viva offers cloud-based payments services in 23 European countries, providing payment in three currencies, namely euro, British pound and Romanian leu.
In January, it announced a deal to buy Greece’s first digital challenger Praxia Bank, which was owned by Barclays’ former boss Bob Diamond and fellow Atlas Merchant Capital partner David Schamis.
The acquisition of Praxia was cleared by the Bank of Greece in early August, the sources said.
$1 = 0.8477 euros Reporting by George Georgiopoulos in Athens and David French in New York; edited by Pamela Barbaglia and Jane Merriman
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.