Trade Me puts in $670k to keep Harmoney stake at 14.4%

Despite regulatory uncertainty, Harmoney continues to experience growth, CEO says.

Online auction site Trade Me has bought $670,000 of shares in peer-to-peer lender Harmoney Corp to keep its stake at 14.4 percent.

The Wellington-based company bought about 1.3 million series B shares at 51c apiece, matching the price paid by Heartland Bank when it boosted its stake with a $4 million investment last month. Harmoney joint chief executive Neil Roberts, the company's biggest shareholder, said the investment will support the firm's growth.

"Despite regulatory uncertainty, Harmoney continues to experience growth, with more than $350 million lent via our marketplace in a little over two years," Mr Roberts said in a statement. "Trade Me's continued support is a great endorsement for Harmoney's potential as Australasia's leading peer-to-peer lending marketplace."

Institutional funders dominate Harmoney's funding, accounting for about $18 million last month compared to retail investors' at some $6 million.

Harmoney burned through almost $13 million of cash in the year ended March 31, leaving it with about $8 million in cash and equivalents at balance date. When it reported its annual earnings in late July, it had brokered $275 million of loans through its portal.

In February, Harmoney had $30 million in the bank when it raised money from Stone Ridge Ventures and P2P Global Investments and was eyeing a foray across the Tasman. At the time, Mr Roberts said he didn't envisage raising more funds until Harmoney was cash-flow neutral, which it would then use to develop into a large-scale business.

Harmoney got a head-start as the first mover in the market but is facing increased competition from the arrival of other licensed P2P lenders Squirrel Money, LendMe, Lending Crowd and PledgeMe, which also operates a crowdfunding platform.

In August, Harmoney said it would plead guilty to six charges relating to a pre-approval letter sent in various forms to more than 500,000 New Zealanders between October 2014 and April 2015, which misled recipients by telling them they had been pre-approved to borrow money.


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