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Entrepreneur bank OakNorth had lent £100 million by last June — this year it lent £100 million in a month

OakNorth founders Rishi Kholsa, left, and Joel Perlman.OakNorth founders Rishi Kholsa, left, and Joel Perlman.OakNorth

LONDON — Entrepreneur-focused bank OakNorth has more than doubled its loan book this year, lending out £430 million since January.

OakNorth, founded in 2015, now has a loan book of £710 million with £700 million worth of deals in the pipeline.

CEO and cofounder Rishi Khosla told Business Insider that last June OakNorth had a lifetime loan book of just £100 million.

By contrast, the bank closed £100 million-worth of loans in June this year, underlining just how fast the startup bank is growing.

Khosla, a serial entrepreneur, founded OakNorth with business partner Joel Perlman to support UK entrepreneurs scaling up their businesses. Recent deals include a £20 million loan to restaurant chain Brasserie Blanc to fund expansion and a £600,000 loan to coffee shop Notes.

Khosla said the loan book growth shows that there are still good, growing businesses in the UK post-Brexit. But he said he is beginning to see companies suffer from a shortage of talent.

“Clearly availability of people is becoming an issue,” Kholsa told Business Insider. “I’m hearing that the labour market is tightening. It’s especially a concern in retail, restaurants — anything that’s consumer facing.”

Roughly half of OakNorth’s loan book is to house builders and the bank says it has helped fund 2,000 new homes in the UK. OakNorth recently hired Hemesh Patel from Investec and Eamonn O’Rourke from Titlestone Property Finance as Property Finance Directors to help support this side of the busines. OakNorth now has 140 staff across the UK.

Ben Barbanel, who heads up OakNorth’s debt finance team, said in a statement:

“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 £150m 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.”

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