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A&O advises on GBP5 million social finance investment

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Brown Greg
Greg Brown



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Hennessey Louise
Louise Hennessey

Senior Associate


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10 August 2018

​A&O has advised on a GBP5 million notes issuance for Five Lamps, a UK-based charity and responsible lender offering affordable loans to socially and financially excluded individuals, as an alternative solution to high-cost credit.

Five Lamps has to date provided close to GBP40 million of affordable personal loans, with the new investment allowing Five Lamps to grow the scale and impact of affordable credit to vulnerable individuals nationally. The funding is set to mobilise over GBP60 million of lending, enabling Five Lamps to offer approximately 100,000 affordable loans, under their “Conduit” brand. This funding represents the largest-ever single investment in a UK community lender.

A&O acted on a pro bono basis for nine investors subscribing to the notes, which include specialist social investment funds Big Issue Invest, FSE, North East Social Investment Fund, Social Investment Scotland and Social and Sustainable Capital, as well as charitable trusts the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust and Harpur Trust. Five Lamps were represented by law firm Simmons & Simmons, equally on a pro bono basis.

The mandate for this transaction was secured via A&O’s Social Finance Impact Investment Group (SFIIG), with the deal team consisting of partner Greg Brown, senior associates Louise Hennessey and Isabel Tinsley and trainee Philipp Engel.

SFIIG is a global interest group of more than 300 A&O lawyers located in over 30 offices, and works to grow the social and impact investment sector by providing advice on the establishment of social investment funds and other related products. The group works across the ‘profit to purpose’ spectrum, advising many charities, social enterprises and social investment intermediaries on a pro bono basis, as well as advising commercially on impact investments.

Greg Brown, head of SFIIG, commented: “A&O are happy to provide our support to a valuable and innovative funding structure of this kind, which is designed to assist the financially excluded who might otherwise only be able to borrow at prohibitive rates.”

Louise Hennessey commented: “We are thrilled to have been able to apply A&O’s expertise in finance transactions to this trailblazing deal, which will increase the visibility of the positive impact social investment can have on the responsible lending sector.”

Lars Hagelmann and Peter Morris, Investment Directors at Big Issue Invest and Social and Sustainable Capital, stated: “We are pleased to be playing a lead role in financing the next phase of growth of Five Lamps’ affordable personal lending. Five Lamps has been building its lending operation’s reach. Along with the other investors, we look forward to increasing Five Lamps’ capacity to support individuals who can benefit from access to fair and responsible credit.”