Last updated 21 April 2021
Peerberry is a multi-lender P2P investment site
Peerberry is now the second largest European P2P investment site. It is a popular site with investors that has been growing fast. 23 loan originators are now listed on the site. Over €25 million of loans are being purchased each month on Peerberry by its 31,000 investors. The Peerberry platform was profitable in 2018 and 2019. We expect those profits to have grown in 2020.
You can read our full review of Peerberry here. We have published an interview with their new CEO, Arunas Lekavicius, which you can find here. We have found so far that the Peerberry website works very well, and the interest rates offered are attractive – generally around 10-12%. All loans offered have buyback guarantees. Peerberry worked flawlessly for investors throughout Covid crisis in 2020. Withdrawals were processed without delays, and there were no ‘pending payment’ issues that were experienced on other platforms during this period.
Aventus Group operates many of the lenders on Peerberry
Peerberry was founded by the the Aventus Group to help it fund its growing loan portfolio. Since then Peerberry has changed ownership and has added other lenders to its platform. Aventus is a lending group with operations in many countries including Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Czech Republic. Peerberry has published the global financial data for the Aventus Global group across all their businesses. In April 2021 it announced that the Aventus group had reached €39m of equity as at March 2021. Peerberry also disclosed that the net profit was a very strong figure of €21.7m for 2020, with further growth during Q1 2021. During 2020 Aventus grew the number of employees from 600 to 1,200.
One thing worth highlighting about Aventus is its unusual corporate structure. It does not have a formal ‘holding company’ that publishes consolidated financial reports for the entire group. Instead, the companies in the group work together via contracts and co-operation, and in some countries there are differing shareholder structures for regulatory and risk management reasons. The CEO of Aventus Group, Andrejus Trofimus is the owner of the group. He recently described the Aventus Group structure as similar to a ‘NATO Alliance’, where different companies within the group provide assistance if it is needed. This also includes the operation of the ‘group guarantee’ where stronger lenders are required to step in if a loan originator is unable to honour the buyback guarantee. This process has already taken place once, with no losses resulting for Peerberry investors. Mr Trofimus has indicated that the reason for this unusual structure was to reduce the risks from operating subsidiaries in some higher risk legal and regulatory environments such as Russia. If a subsidiary were to run into problems, it could be closed with minimal impact on the wider group.
One point we have to highlight is that we have no way of verifying the Aventus Group financial figures published by Peerberry. While we have access to audited financial statements for each lender that appears on Peerberry, Aventus does not seem willing to provide detailed financial information for the non-lending operations that generate a significant proportion of its group profits. We know that Aventus is active in real estate and IT/Tech but unfortunately we do not know how much each business area contributes to group profit and we are also not able to verify the profits made by each non-lending subsidiary. We have no grounds to question the reliability of the information published but we think it is worth highlighting the lack of documentation that exists around this.
Other lenders on Peerberry are small
The GoFingo group is the other main lending group on Peerberry. GoFingo is owned by Lithuanian entrepreneurs Vytautas Olsauskas and Vytautus Jonas Lapienis. Prior to starting GoFingo they co-founded a Lithuanian credit union. Four GoFingo Group companies in total are listed on Peerberry. The two largest companies are Euro Groshi in Ukraine, and SOS Credit in Czech Republic. Both companies made profits in 2018 and 2019, however the businesses are still small.
There are also two small Lithuanian property companies active on Peerberry – Lithome, and SI Baltic. Although these companies are extremely small, and have limited financial information about them available, the loans they offer on Peerberry are secured on real estate, which reduces the risks for investors.
Aventus and GoFingo now both provide group guarantees
One of the biggest changes to Peerberry that has taken place is the recent introduction of group guarantees that are now provided by Aventus Group and GoFingo. According to Peerberry, under the terms of this guarantee, each entity in each group guarantees the payment of other entities in each group. Each company’s obligations are guaranteed by at least two other profitable members of the group. This is a significant improvement for Peerberry investors, where previously only some loan originators received these guarantees. An explanation of the group guarantee mechanics can be found on the Peerberry website here.
We have taken the value of these guarantees into account when performing our ratings. We begin with assessing the overall ratings for each group. We have then rated each subsidiary to take into account the value of the guarantees. The subsidiaries have lower overall scores than for the holding group. The reason is that there is always a risk that the guarantees are not honoured in the future, either for technical, legal or financial reasons. Our score haircut reflects these extra risks, compared to owning a direct loan issued by each holding company.
For the holding groups that are providing group support, or not receiving any group support, we have calculated their score out of 80 on the four primary rating factors of profit, capital, size and track record. We have then scaled this score up to generate a score out of 100 (for example a 60/80 score would be shown as a total score of 75/100).
Peerberry highlights two other structural features that are in place to protect investors. Firstly, Aventus and GoFingo only use P2P to fund only 45% of their loan portfolios. They fund the remainder using their own funds, which means that they have significant ‘skin in the game’. They also point to the cash held at Peerberry by lending companies to cover investor repayments. This is 10% of outstanding loans, which is significantly higher than the loan ‘buyback’ rate of 1.5-2% that has historically taken place.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 Peerberry investors have been reporting a good experience, with no delays to withdrawals, or unexpected increases in default rates. While the loan originators sensibly cut back on lending significantly during the middle of 2020, volumes have since grown significantly as they have taken advantage of reduced competition in key markets. Availability of loans has increased, although interest rates have been falling as investor demand has been strong. Last year we interviewed the CEO of Aventus Group about his response to Covid-19, which you can read here.
Peerberry lenders - key financial information
Peerberry lenders - our rating scores
Our thoughts on the lenders
Our preferred lenders on Peerberry are the Aventus Group companies in Poland and Ukraine. That is because they are larger, more profitable, and have performed very well throughout the Covid crisis according to the CEO of Aventus Group. As noted above there are many startup Aventus companies listed on Peerberry that operate in countries such as Kazakhstan, Russia, Sri Lanka and Moldova. The lack of track record and small size make them higher risk. Kazakhstan has also suffered more difficulties related to Covid-19 than in many other countries. While the guarantees they have received from the Aventus Group reduces these risks, we are not sure that the extra yield offered on these loans is enough.
The loan originators that rely heavily on their group guarantee score are inherently higher risk than others that have better individual scores for profits, capital levels, size and track record. Where possible select loan originators that do not rely heavily on their group guarantee.
The lack of size and track record of the GoFingo companies has resulted in them scoring fairly poorly in our ratings. However we would expect their scores to improve over time once more financial information is released during 2021 and the businesses have developed a longer track record.
The loans offered by Lithome and SI Baltic are secured on real estate projects. However the information provided is very limited and we think there are better sites to invest in these types of loans in Lithuania, such as EstateGuru
Peerberry has recently launched a bonus offer that equates to 2% for smaller investments, and scales to 1% for larger investments. Full details are on its site. To take advantage, click on this link, open a Peerberry account, and you will automatically qualify.