Last updated - 23 July 2021
Mintos lenders can default or close down - choosing the best lenders is important
In 2017, Mintos lender Eurocent failed, and defaulted on its Mintos ‘buyback guarantee’ commitments. Since then there have been defaults and issues with several other lenders. Over the last 4 years we have been providing the scores and data on this page – our Mintos lender ratings. Our goal is to provide investors with key information on each lender, and a rating score to help highlight those that are lowest and highest risk.
To begin with, below we discuss some recent events:
Aforti litigation is successful - investors achieve a full recovery
Polish lender Aforti defaulted on its obligations to Mintos investors in 2019. The situation has always been a little mysterious as the company has continued to trade, and also remain listed on the Warsaw stock exchange. Mintos launched litigation against the company in 2020 and it has been successful. A bailiff was appointed by the Polish courts earlier this year, who was successful in seizing and selling assets owned by Aforti. Mintos has now announced that it has recovered sufficient funds to full repay all principal amounts outstanding, and some interest accrued since 2019. This is an excellent result, particularly as the Mintos recovery team had said that they were uncertain how much they would be able to recover for investors.
Mintos updates its ratings
Mintos recently published some updates to its ratings. There were no big surprises. Companies receiving upgrades were Eleving (Mogo), Iute Credit, Finclusion, Sun Finance and Credissimo. The only downgrade was Lime Zaim of Russia..
Creamfinance exits Denmark
In 2020 Denmark introduced an interest rate cap on personal loans. That completely killed the business models of many lenders offering short-term loans in the country. We have been cautious about the potential regulatory risks from investing in loans in Denmark for some time. As we note below, Sun Finance has attempted some rule ‘workarounds’, the legality of which has been called into question. Another Mintos lender, Creamfinance has instead decided to just quit and leave Denmark instead. That’s probably a more prudent corporate decision. All Mintos investors have had their Creamfinance Denmark investments repaid.
Akulaku investors achieve a full recovery
Akulaku is an Indonesian fintech lender. It has received investments from some very notable firms such as Sequoia and Ant Financial. It also held $76m of cash in the latest financial statements it uploaded to Mintos. That is why many, including us, were surprised that it was one of the first firms to be suspended in 2020 following the outbreak of Covid. Where had all the cash gone? Why had they been able to raise more equity from their numerous backers? That has never been explained adequately. However, the good news is that investors have now received a full recovery on their investments in Akulaku loans, six months faster than had been expected. That is an important result because at the time of suspension Mintos investors were owed almost €21 million.
Mintos gives new recovery estimates
Mintos has provided its latest update on how much it expects to recover from each lender in default. Total recoveries are forecast to be 55-60% across the defaulted loan portfolio (which is higher than the last Mintos estimate of 50%). The companies that had their recovery estimates cut were Cashwagon and Dziesiatka. Mintos also announced for the first time that investors will receive less than full recoveries on exposures to Monego and Aforti. We are not fans of how Mintos distributes cash received from defaulted lenders. Rather than distributing it pro-rata based on how much is owed to each investor, it distributes it according to the maturity dates of the loans owned by each investor. This means in effect that investors holding short term loans will receive full recoveries, and investors in longer term loans will often receive nothing. This does not make sense to us.
E-Cash is closing down. Investors will make a significant loss
Small Ukrainian lender E-Cash has announced that it is closing down. It has around €0.8m of loans outstanding on Mintos, with a further €0.4m of pending payments. Mintos has suspended E-Cash from the marketplace. We had rated E-Cash only 20/100 due to its small size, low capitalisation, and heavy losses in 2019. Mintos has now announced that the recovery rate for Mintos investors will be less than 25%.
Mintos lifts suspension of Sun Finance Denmark but the risks remain
In early 2020 we highlighted that Denmark was introducing an interest rate cap of 35%, and that this would impact many payday lenders in that country. We have since seen many lenders stop operating in the country as a result, or significantly cut back operations. Sun Finance has kept operating there. The consumer ombudsman has now highlighted several practices of Sun Finance that it says are illegal, unenforceable, and will be reported to the police. This includes charging a fee of 17% of balance for every month a customer does not provide certain financial information, as well as over-charging of default interest, and not including certain mandatory fees within the APR calculation. Several other unfair terms were noted, including the requirement to immediately repay a loan if a customer’s credit rating fell beneath a certain level. These allegations appear to be very serious breaches of the regulations and there appears to be a high risk that the loans will be found to be not enforceable.
We note that the Sun Finance CEO has stated that he believes that the loan terms are compliant and has been reviewed by experts. Mintos initially suspended Sun Finance Denmark from the primary market but it has now reversed that decision because there is no active legal case against Sun Finance currently. We are very surprised by this decision as it will obviously take time for any actions to be taken by Danish authorities, and the lack of an any actions now does not mean that the Ombudsman’s complaints have no merit. There is absolutely no upside for Mintos investors to take on any regulatory risk and we continue to expect the smarter investors to sell and avoid Sun Finance Denmark until the matter is fully resolved.
Key financial information of each Mintos lender
The table below captures the key financial information for each lender. This can be useful to quickly lookup the profile of each lender, and compare the strengths and weaknesses of each one.
All Figures in EUR million (profits annualised where appropriate):
Note: S = Suspended D= Defaulted W = Solvent windown
Our Mintos lender ratings
Our Mintos lender ratings are based on 5 characteristics – profitability, capitalisation, size, track record and the quality of their reporting. We have allocated marks out of 20 for each metric, giving a total score out of 100. Mintos have recently changed their ratings system, which is now a number from 0-10. A W/D indicates that Mintos has withdrawn their rating.
Consider country risk too
Mintos offers loans from many different countries around the world, and some countries are more risky than others. To help investors assess the risk level of each country, we have published a country risk ratings page. This takes into account factors such as currency risks, sovereign risk and the local business environment. We think it is worth considering these risks when building a portfolio allocation, in addition to the LO ratings above.
Key updates: July 2021
difference. Second, the auditor had given a qualified opinion. Although it only related to one specific topic it is not something we would expect to see and raises questions about the quality of the finance team at Wowwo. Finally, the company reduced the size of its loan portfolio materially during Q4 2020 and made a small loss (according to its management accounts). Wowwo says it has made an (unaudited) profit of €2m in Q1 2021 but for now we are a little skeptical about any of its management accounting numbers, and await an explanation about what happened in 2020. Our new score is down 13 to 59
the lack of disclosure around this is disappointing. Fenchurch says that it made a profit of €0.5m in the year to May 2021. Its parent, SHP Capital provides a group guarantee. The company started in 2019 and only provides very limited, unaudited financial information. We think litigation finance is an interesting space. However our preferred exposure (for those who like to take risks) would be via AxiaFunder. They have already settled 5 out of 12 funded cases so far and investor returns / IRRs have been on average 55% which is phenomenal. As for Fenchurch Legal – our initial score is 42
Key updates: June 2021
Key updates: May 2021
We think the subordinated debt is a weaker form of equity injection and we have given less credit to it in our capital scoring than if ‘real’ equity was injected. High leverage remains Mogo’s biggest weakness. Mogo’s loan portfolio seems to be performing fine, with stable NPL ratios. Our new score is 65, up 4
Updates: April 2021
Updates: March 2021
active on Mintos is the Kazakhstan subsidiary, we are now presenting financial information and scores just for this entity. The quality of information available about this entity is better than average, particularly because it recently published a prospectus as part of a bond issue. Our initial score is 63.
Updates: February 2021
We were also pleased to see that the company is (finally) taking steps to reduce its FX risk. Mogo has also announced that they are hoping to obtain an equity injection from new investors. That’s a good idea, because the company currently feels a little over-leveraged right now.
To reflect the turnaround in performance, our score is up 8 to 61.
The company had promised to clear the pending payments in the new year, and they have achieved that, with only a minor amount remaining at the end of January. The company successfully issued €20m of bonds in December (although admittedly at quite a high yield of 13.5%). The next issuance is planned in May 2021. On the audit side, the company has committed to using ‘an internationally recognised accounting firm’ (thought to be KPMG) to audit the 2020 results.
The audit of the 2020 results by a major audit firm will generate a lot of confidence among investors. That’s because based on the results provided to us, the company performed well during 2020. It has announced preliminary results for the year that show a profit of €5.7m. The underlying earnings during Q4 improved significantly compared to Q3, due to strong growth in net interest income and falling loan impairment charges. We would like to see Creditstar raise some equity during the first half of 2021 – it
has always operated with a fairly stretched balance sheet. It seems to have strong growth plans, and it is going to require an equity injection if it wants to do this while retaining the confidence of its creditors. Our score remains 72.
Updates: December 2020
Updates: November 2020
We have upgraded the ratings of these subsidiaries, but hope to learn more about how the Denmark and Poland subsidiaries have been able to perform so well. The weaker subsidiaries in Vietnam, Mexico and Kazakhstan did not provide any financial updates. These subsidiaries receive a group guarantee. However, as Mintos has a poor track record when it comes to enforcing group guarantees, we plan to continue rating these subsidiaries on
the basis of their own financials and track record. The Sun Finance group reported a profit of €12.1m in the 9 months to September, which was a strong result.
emerging markets. It also appears to have paid €4.7m of goodwill during Q3 on its acquisition of Kredo and Tigo. This acquisition, and the price paid looks very questionable given the current circumstances of Mogo. Another factor to highlight is that a large proportion of the reported equity consists of subordinated loans. This is lower quality capital than subscribed equity and there has been insufficient disclosures surrounding the terms of the instruments. Tangible shareholders equity (after deducting goodwill and
intangible assets) had fallen to only €0.1m as of Sep 30, which is concerning. Ratings firm Fitch has issued a negative outlook. One positive of their analysis is that Fitch are treating the subordinated debt as equity after presumably having reviewed the terms and structure of the instruments. Mogo announced that it had stopped lending in several countries, and was focusing on debt collection. These are probably sensible actions but they are not decisions that are made when things are going to plan. The continued losses,
uncertain outlook, non-core acquisitions, FX risks and deterioration in the size and quality of Mogo’s capital base means that we have significantly cut Mogo’s score from 72 to 53.
Changes in September & October 2020
Updates: August 2020
EstateGuru is an excellent site that offers loans secured on real estate. Rates are high - around 11%. Currently mainly focused on the Baltic region of Europe but with plans to expand into other countries.
Viventor is a similar site to Mintos, just smaller. Some secured loans are available. We also provide Viventor lender ratings.
Bulkestate is a small but growing site focused on loans secured on real estate. It offers loans secured by real estate. Their rates are the highest in Europe for secured loans currently (11-14%)
October is focused on lending to small businesses in France, Spain and Italy. Rates are often a little lower than the other sites we list here, but some investors will like October due to the countries it operates in.
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