Last updated - 8 January 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:
Mintos suspends all Kazakhstan lending companies
Mintos updates its ratings
Mintos becomes a regulated investment firm
Mintos has announced that it has been licenced by the Latvian authorities to operate a licenced investment platform and also be an electronic money issuer. What does that mean for Mintos investors? The most obvious benefit we can see is actually the electronic money licence. This should improve the safety of cash held on deposit at Mintos, as each investor will have their funds sitting in individually assigned IBANs, with the funds held in custody at regulated banks. Mintos also highlights that it will change the structure of the loans it sells to make them qualify as regulated assets. This will give investors some protections under European Union law (MiFID II). Mintos has also announced that it will be able to sell products such as ETF’s to its investors. We can see why this may be a good ‘cross-sell’ opportunity for Mintos, but it is not clear why investors would chose Mintos to buy ETF’s rather than a dedicated brokerage service.
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.
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: January 2022
Key updates: December 2021
So what is the outlook for Wowwo and its lenders? Wowwo provided an FX exposure analysis in its 2020 annual report. It showed that a 50% currency depreciation against the Euro would generate losses of TKL 43m – or about 40% of its capital. A bad situation but likely survivable. The bigger question is what the new economic situation means for the company and its borrowers. Can people repay their loans?
That’s still a bit too early to say. Real GDP is forecast to still be positive in 2022 – around 3.5-4%. High inflation and currency deflation will however cause problems for some borrowers. The good news is that Wowwo’s loans are secured on hard assets (cars) which should reduce the risk of the company suffering high losses. The main risks are further depreciation of the Lira, and the inability of Wowwo to find alternative loca sources of funding.
provided to investors, with a profit of €6.6m prior to FX movements. However we then saw that KPMG had issued a qualified audit opinion. The reason for this is that the company had revalued upwards the value of intangible assets in both 2019 and 2020. KPMG notes that this is not permitted under the accounting standards. It seems very strange to us that the company preferred to issue numbers that KPMG would not sign off on, rather than publishing conforming results.
The impact of these intangible asset revaluations is quite material. The revaluations resulted in Creditstar’s reported profits being 120% higher in 2020 and 71% in 2019. As these revaluations do not comply with accounting standards we have made some adjustments to the figures provided in the tables above. We have adjusted the profits shown for 2020 and 2019, and have also adjusted the reported shareholders equity balance. We have reassesed all the scores for Creditstar based on the new
information available. In particular, we reduced the scores for profitability, capitalisation and track record. Our new score is down 4 to 61. The company seems to be performing well during 2021. The strong profits seem to have been generated from business operations rather than ‘revaluations’. If it wants to further recover investor confidence, it should also think about upgrading its finance team too.
Key updates: November 2021
Key updates: September/October 2021
Key updates: August 2021
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
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.
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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