RateSetter was once valued at £200m © Charlie Bibby/FT

Rhydian Lewis
Fintech to bank exec 

Rhydian Lewis, the once-evangelical co-founder of peer-to-peer lender RateSetter, used to berate high-street banks. Only a few months back, he differentiated himself from the misers in suits, saying: “I personally care about normal people getting better returns.” All of which begs two questions: why has Lewis’s pioneering fintech just sold itself to Metro Bank for £2.5m plus a deferred £9.5m having once been valued at £200m; and why has he accepted a seat on the bank’s executive committee? City connections may offer some clues.

One well-placed insider notes that peer-to-peer lenders only offered better returns because, unlike banks, they did not have to maintain costly capital buffers against 1-in-100 year risks. So, with one of those risks suddenly realised in Covid, even Lewis went from evangelist to pragmatist, and saw the value of selling to a buffered bank after equity valuations plummeted. However, a RateSetter board headed by City grandee Paul Manduca — outgoing chair of Prudential — is likely to have pushed for this prudence . . . especially with RateSetter having to double contributions to its own provision fund.

And one well-placed bank analyst suggests Metro is trying to position itself as a slightly safer harbour for peer-to-peer buccaneers. Metro was always a “prospective partner” having struck a deal with Zopa in 2015. It has now added “canny operator” Lewis to an Exco that has “interesting experience with other organisations”. But, most significantly, chairman Robert Sharpe brings “an M&A mentality” and “a major City network”. Might more deals be in the offing? If you can’t berate ’em, join ’em, as Lewis might say.

Paolo Dybala
Uncommon goalscorer

1 Schmeichel (Denmark);
2 Daniels (England); 3 Chiellini (Italy); 4 Mata (Spain); 5 Hummels (Germany); 6 Balogun (Nigeria);
7 Cantona (France); 8 Gnabry (Germany); 9 Dybala (Argentina);
10 Kagawa (Japan); 11 Rapinoe (US
); Manager: Klopp (Germany)

If dealmaker Amanda Staveley nearly persuaded Saudi investors to pay £300m for Newcastle United — until it all fell apart this week — how much would someone give for this footballing dream team? But that, apparently, is the wrong question. It should be: how much will this team give? And the answer, City Insider has learnt, is 1 per cent of their annual salaries . . . to charity. Those famous names are just 11 of 159 players who now support Common Goal — a social impact collective, based around the beautiful game. Their donations go into a fund, which invests in high-impact organisations using football to empower vulnerable children round the world. Its latest signing is Paolo Dybala, the Argentine striker whose 17 goals have just helped Italian club Juventus win its fifth Serie A title in a row. So far, the stars have financed €2m of “football for good initiatives” and a €600,000 Covid-19 fund. ‘Back of the net!’ as they say in Turin — or less so on the banks of the Tyne.

Not so small retainer

Workers reliant on government coronavirus support schemes are only guaranteed 80 per cent of their regular wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. But it seems there are a few exceptions. This week’s report from the High Pay Centre found that average CEO pay at the 19 FTSE 100 companies using the Job Retention Scheme or Covid Corporate Finance Facility is £3.23m. Which is 89 per cent of the median £3.61m for the wider index. All in it together!

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