Axe swings on hundreds of Greensill staff as empire implodes


Collapsed supply chain financier Greensill Capital has swung the axe with all its Australian staff losing their jobs and 500 staff in its UK office expected to be retrenched, bringing a swift end for the lender founded by Bundaberg farmer Lex Greensill and worth $6bn at Christmas.

Greensill's head of Australian operations, Matthew Costello, paid an emotional tribute to his "close friend" Lex Greensill and revealed all 35 of the company's Australian staff had lost their jobs on Monday after the company was placed into liquidation.

About 500 staff in Greensill's London operations are also expected to lose their roles imminently, The Australian understands, representing the vast majority of its UK operations.

Mr Costello paid tribute to Greensill's founder, noting the duo had built up an international business despite not being bankers.

"Greensill was a start-up working capital finance business based in the UK and headed up by a close friend Lex Greensill and although we were not bankers, we did know how to build a business and take new products to market," Mr Costello wrote on LinkedIn.

"Seven years later, yesterday in fact, we finish at Greensill and the Australian team consisted of 35 exceptional people which peaked at managing over $5bn in assets for clients and investors."

Lex Greensill of Greensill Capital in London last December. Picture By Annabel Moeller
Lex Greensill of Greensill Capital in London last December. Picture By Annabel Moeller

The fate of Greensill staff has looked bleak since Mr Greensill hosted a call with his global staff of more than 1000 a week ago at the end of which, his message was clear: "Goodbye".

His Australian chief on Tuesday defended the company's financial record despite conceding the company would remain in the headlines for some time.

"I couldn't be prouder of what we achieved and while Greensill will be in the news for some time to come, the Australian business and the Australian team built one of the strongest working capital finance books in the local finance industry."

Mr Costello paid tribute to Greensill staff while expressing his sadness at the company's collapse.

"In February 2014 I was invited to start up Greensill Capital in Australia along with my business partner at the time Ilkka Tales."

"I am deeply saddened that we now have to disband and go our separate ways. I can and will personally vouch for every member of our team here."

Quadrant Private Equity managing partner Justin Ryan noted he was proud to have his son Nicholas Ryan, an analyst with Greensill, work as part of Mr Costello's team.

For much of the past year, Mr Greensill - who was made a Commander of the British Empire for services to the economy in 2017 - had been holed up in his renovated vicarage at Saughall, in the UK's rural Cheshire. There, he has witnessed the implosion of his eponymous company.

In January 2020, Greensill was considering a sharemarket float and preparing to launch its wages on demand offering. Mr Greensill was also estimated to be worth more than $2bn, with his stake in the company comprising most of his fortune, as well as a $150m property portfolio, which included his family's farm in Bundaberg.

In December last year, he was still clinging to plans of a Greensill float, telling The Australian that while no specific date has been chosen for an IPO, but "within the next two years is likely".

But the loss of insurance coverage in recent months - and the consequent decision by banking giant Credit Suisse to wind down $US10bn worth of funds associated with its financing activities - placed Greensill in "severe" financial distress.

Greensill, which filed for insolvency a week ago, suffered a fresh setback over the weekend after private equity giant Apollo Global Management abandoned talks with administrators Grant Thornton to buy parts of the ailing finance business.

That effectively sealed the closure of the Greensill business and with it hundreds of jobs.

The prospects for his biggest client, industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, still remain in the balance.

A temporary repayment standstill is still being negotiated between Grant Thornton and Mr Gupta while the industrialist was dealt a fresh blow late on Monday after Fitch placed the credit rating under review of Infrabuild - his most profitable asset - following Greensill's woes.


Originally published as Axe swings on hundreds of Greensill staff