LendingClub turmoil takes toll as company posts widening losses

(Reuters) - LendingClub Corp LC.N on Monday reported its largest quarterly loss in a year as it struggles to bring banks back to its online lending platform following the departure of its chief executive and a scandal involving altered loan documents.

A woman looks at her phone as she passes by a Lending Club banner on the facade of the the New York Stock Exchange December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

LendingClub, which matches borrowers and lenders via an online marketplace, reported a second-quarter loss of $81.4 million, or 21 cents per share, compared to a loss of $4.1 million, or 1 cent per share, a year ago.

The company also continued its executive shakeup, with the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Carrie Dolan. Her departure is the first high-profile exit since the departure of Renaud Laplanche, the company’s founder, as chief executive on May 9.

Dolan, who joined six years ago when LendingClub had just 40 employees, gave notice early this year, but the board of directed asked her to delay moving on, executives said on a call with investors.

Accounting officer Bradley Coleman was named interim CFO. In addition, LendingClub appointed Timothy Mayopoulos, president and CEO of Fannie Mae FNMA.PK, to its board as an independent director.

The second-quarter earnings report follows a tumultuous period for LendingClub, once considered the standard bearer in a new generation of online lenders but which has been pummeled by revelations of lending improprieties, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, the departure of loan investors and layoffs of 179 employees.

“The good thing is (the second quarter) is now behind us,” said Scott Sanborn, who took over as president and CEO in June. “We have accomplished quite a bit since the events of May 9.”

LendingClub’s shares were down more than 2 percent at about $4.68 in after-hours trading. That puts the company’s market cap at about $1.8 billion, about one-third its market value of about $5.4 billion when it went public in December 2014 in an offering priced at $15 a share.

LendingClub’s problems were highlighted by weak growth in the second quarter in loan originations, the company’s main revenue stream. Loan originations, or the number of new loans processed by the company, rose just 2.3 percent to nearly $2 billion in the quarter, a steep drop from the 68 percent growth in the preceding quarter and 90 percent growth a year earlier.

The fall reflects the industry’s struggles with faltering investor appetite for loans, rising defaults and the threat of heightened regulation.

For the third quarter, the company expects operating revenue of $95 million to $105 million, below analysts’ current average estimate of $106.1 million. In the second quarter LendingClub had revenue of $102.4 million.


The second-quarter loss of $81 million included a $35.4 million write-down related to the acquisition of health-care lender Springstone Financial in April 2014.

The quarter also included $14 million worth of incentives paid to institutional investors to encourage them to resume buying LendingClub loans. Many investors fled after the company revealed improprieties in the sale of a batch of loans and the departure of Laplanche.

LendingClub in May said it had altered documentation when selling $22 million of loans. An internal probe later revealed that Laplanche and his family had taken out 32 loans on the platform in December 2009 to boost the company’s volumes just four months prior to closing a round of venture capital funding.

The probe also turned up evidence that Laplanche and Dolan had used some of their company shares to secure personal loans. LendingClub said Laplanche and Dolan were not required to seek approval for those loans.

Sanborn told investors that 15 of the platform’s top 20 investors have returned, although most of them are investing less than prior to the events in May. Banks were most affected by the loan improprieties revealed in the spring, Sanborn said, and have been particularly slow to return. Their due diligence process is lengthier.

Jefferies, the investment bank that had been a major buyer of LendingClub loans, has resumed its purchases, completing the securitization of $134 million of LendingClub personal loans this month.

“People are showing a willingness to test the pipes a little bit,” Sanborn said.

(This story has been refiled to remove duplicated information in paragraphs 13 and 14)

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan and Heather Somerville in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler