Versana to launch syndicated loan platform

Dan Barnes
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Cynthia Sachs, CEO, Versana (Courtesy of Versana).

Fintech firm Versana is to launch a syndicated loan platform, joining together banks, institutional lenders and their service providers in an effort to bring transparency, efficiency and velocity to this US$5 trillion market. Versana’s founding members are JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citi and Credit Suisse.

The Versana platform, which is expected to launch later this year, will aim to reduce the corporate loan market’s operational challenges by digitally capturing agent banks’ reference data directly from its source on a real-time basis.

In addition to providing greater transparency into loan level details and lender portfolio positions, Versana is intended to streamline workflows and lower costs, and subsequently enable agent banks to better serve their clients.

Industry veteran Cynthia Sachs has been named as CEO and member of the board of directors. Sachs comes to Versana with more than twenty-five years of Wall Street experience, primarily creating, growing and leading loan-related businesses in the banking and technology sectors.

She has spent the majority of her career as a leveraged finance banker, portfolio manager and trader at Morgan Stanley, Natixis and Bank of America, and later served as global head of fixed income valuations at Bloomberg where she led the creation of BVAL, the firm’s evaluated pricing service.

Most recently, Sachs was the CEO and chief investment officer of Athena Art Finance, a specialty finance start-up founded by private equity firm Carlyle.

“I am excited to lead this venture to transform the syndicated loan market, a true game-changer in an area of finance that has lagged in technology and innovation,” said Sachs. “Versana is backed by some of the biggest players and is being built by industry veterans with decades of experience working in the loan ecosystem. We know first-hand the challenges that exist today and are passionate about fixing the market’s inefficiencies and inherent risks, setting it up for accelerated growth for years to come.”

The US$5 trillion syndicated loan market could see volumes rise in the current inflationary environment as interest rates typically rise in response and more market participants turn to floating rate financial products. But the highly fragmented and inefficient nature of the current market ecosystem – with settlement times of more than 20 days on average, according to Versana – can frustrate participants, add additional costs and a high level of operational challenges.

Alex Naboicheck, head of US leveraged loan trading at Bank of America says, “We saw an opportunity to spur innovation in the loan market and joined with other leading agent banks to form Versana. By addressing many of the challenges inherent in the industry, the entire loan community will benefit from Versana.”

Nina Guinchard, global head of transaction management at Citi, says, “Innovation like Versana’s is critical for enabling growth and longevity. Real-time sharing of information is at the center of today’s society, and enabling syndicated loan infrastructure to operate the same way will be a huge step forward.”

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