Solarisbank raises 190 mln euros, gains UK foothold with Contis buy

BERLIN, July 26 (Reuters) - Digital banking platform Solarisbank said on Monday it had raised 190 million euros ($224 million) from investors and was spending a chunk of the money to gain a foothold in Britain by acquiring smaller peer Contis.

Berlin-based Solaris, which was founded in 2016 and provides so-called 'banking as a service', said the Series D venture round valued the business at 1.4 billion euros - putting it well into the 'unicorn', or billion dollar, bracket.

CEO Roland Folz said Solaris had explored growing organically in Britain but, realising that would take too long, chose instead to go for an acquisition.

"Contis is a fantastic business - it fits to us from a geographical perspective and it fits to us from a licence perspective," Folz told Reuters in an interview.

Solaris, which runs on the AWS (AMZN.O) cloud, provides digital bank accounts and payment cards, know-your-customer checks and lending services. It expanded out of its German home market to France, Spain and Italy last year.

It offers a core digital banking proposition that enables financial services companies, such as online brokerage Trade Republic or credit card giant American Express (AXP.N), to run their services on top.

The acquisition of Contis, which is profitable, will add payments processing to the in-house services offered by Solaris. The combined group is expected to generate revenues of 80-100 million euros this year.

There will be some funds left over after the deal, putting Solaris in a position to invest in further expansion, said Folz. A push into eastern Europe or Asia was on the cards for 2022, he added.

The investment round was led by Decisive Capital Management, with support from investors including Pathway Capital Management, CNP (Groupe Frère) and Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital, while existing backers also chipped in. ($1 = 0.8485 euros)

Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik and Douglas Busvine Editing by Mark Potter

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