OakNorth lends £430m over 80 transactions since January


Ben Barbanel

As larger lenders retrench further from the SME lending market amidst ongoing economic uncertainty, OakNorth has continued to see a surge in demand for its lending services, and has announced two new hires to its debt finance team in response to this. The news follows an expansion of the team in January which saw new hires join from NIBC Bank, Williams & Glyn, and Santander. The bank’s total headcount now stands at 140 people – up from 110 at the beginning of the year.

Since launching in September 2015, the bank has established itself as a credible contender in the lending space, growing its loan book to over £710m, and achieving breakeven within just 11 months. Its client list now includes several high-profile businesses: Brasserie Bar Co. – who it lent £20m to in June, enabling the business to open 24 new sites and create 700 new jobs. – as well as Z Hotels, Galliard Homes, Frogmore, The Collective, and Notes Coffee.

Hemesh Patel and Eamonn O’Rourke join as Property Finance Directors. Patel previously spent eight years in structured property finance within the asset management team of Investec, where he originated new business and managed a loan book of £80m+. O’Rourke joins from Titlestone Property Finance where he managed a portfolio of £120m+ within the lending team after spending several years at incumbent institutions – Coutts and RBS.

The debt finance team is led by Ben Barbanel, former Head of Business Development, London and South East, at Santander. Barbanel, pictured, commented:

“At the beginning of the year, we said that we would lend £500m to SMEs based on our pipeline at the time, so to reach £430m with another four months left to go in the year, is an amazing accomplishment. In addition to this, we’ve had over £100m in repayments, demonstrating the quality of businesses we’ve lent to, and a quarter of our deal flow now comes from existing clients – a testament to the strong relationships developed by our team.

“If we want to maintain the speed and service that has helped set us apart from other lenders in the market so far, we need to continue developing and scaling the team in line with this. Hemesh and Eamonn have both demonstrated that they have the independent drive and commercial acumen required to replicate the success of the past two years and propel us even further.”