PhillyDeals: Metro Bank raises $637 million from past investors

Founder Vernon Hill saw his holdings in Metro Bank reduced to 9 percent before the latest sale.
Founder Vernon Hill saw his holdings in Metro Bank reduced to 9 percent before the latest sale.
Posted: January 22, 2014

Metro Bank P.L.C., the fast-growing, 25-branch British bank started by Commerce Bancorp founder Vernon Hill, has raised $637 million (385 million UK pounds) from past investors.

Contributors include hedge funds SAC Capital Advisors, headed by Steve Cohen, and Moore Capital Management L.L.C., both of New York. Also, mutual fund managers Fidelity Investments and Wellington Management Co., whose clients include Vanguard Group, and real estate investors Reuben Brothers, based in Switzerland, and Richard LeFrak, chairman of his namesake New York company.

Metro had planned an initial public stock offering in 2014, but that has been put off until at least 2016 as the company invests heavily in hopes of building future market share, and eventually showing a profit. That will happen when interest rates rebound, someday.

The bank previously raised around $200 million in 2010 and another $200 million in 2012.

Instead of going public, Metro increased the private offering by more than 50 percent, since investors oversubscribed. Hill's own holding dropped to 9 percent from 13 percent, before the latest sale.

British banks have been unprofitable in recent years, with low interest rates and low borrower demand squeezing earnings. The opposition Labor Party has urged breaking up the investment bank Barclays and a handful of other dominant institutions. Hill, who says Metro is growing by poaching customers from the dominant banks, says government should stay out, British newspapers have reported.

With its glass-walled branches, fast-moving teller lines, and simple (though not cheaper-than-market) product offerings, Metro is modeled on the former Commerce Bancorp (now part of TD Bank).

Monetate in motion

Monetate, a "marketing acceleration" software company that employs 200 at its West Conshohocken headquarters and offices in London, New York, and Chicago, says it has agreed to a "strategic partnership and software integration" with SAP AG's Hybris business-software platform.

The software service was built for Hybris and Monetate by India-based Pragiti Internet Technologies Pvt. Ltd., and will be marketed to business customers through Hybris' Extend online software market.

Monetate also said it has hired Chris Lehman as head of North American sales. Lehman was formerly a Mid-Atlantic vice president at software giant Inc. The Penn State grad also worked for EMC Documentum.

Helping hand

The Union League has been in talks with the Torresdale-Frankford Country Club, on Grant Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, on a possible joint arrangement that could give the league a home course while also helping Torresdale-Frankford and its 1920s-era, Donald Ross-designed course.

The current golf industry recession could mean clubs having to sell clubhouses or parking lots, according to people familiar with the situation.

The league, whose current Union League Golf Club affiliate offers players a Philadelphia-area golf tour involving a string of local courses (including exclusive links like Aronimink Golf Club, in Newtown Square, and Bidermann Golf Club, in Wilmington), was outbid in 2013 in an attempt to buy the ailing Woodcrest Country Club, in Cherry Hill, by developer First Montgomery Group, of Marlton.

Union League is interested in Torresdale-Frankford for reasons of convenience as well, since it is 20 minutes from Center City.


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