Pluto Finance appoints ex-Natwest chief, unveils growth plans

Specialist UK property lender Pluto Finance has announced the appointment of high profile industry leader and ex-NatWest head of real estate Lending Phil Hooper.

Pluto said it planned to increase lending to developers and investors predominantly in the residential sector, to help support the delivery of much needed housing stock across the UK.

Hooper will become head of lending at Pluto, working alongside founder and CEO Justin Faiz. Since its inception in 2011, the company has lent over £2.5 bn (€2.85 bn), financing the delivery of 10,000 new homes with another 2,000 currently under construction.

Part-owned by the UK’s largest private sector pension scheme Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), Pluto’s business model gives institutional capital exposure to mid-market real estate loans. Pluto’s investors include pension funds, insurers and global financial institutions.

Hooper was head of real estate finance at NatWest for five years managing the £30 bn real estate lending book in the UK and leading the business through Covid. He also spent the previous 15 years as head of housing delivery and residential development.

Justin Faiz, founder and CEO of Pluto Finance, said: 'We have the capability to challenge the traditional banks in real estate lending, supported by investment from global institutions such as USS, amongst others.

'Phil’s appointment is the next step in our strategy with his strong market facing presence, exceptional track record and client network. We are confident that we can compete with all types of lenders across both residential and commercial property. With Phil on board the next 12 months will be pivotal for our five-year growth plan.'

Said Hooper: 'Pluto is an established, yet agile lender powered by strong investor capital. There is a wealth of expertise in the team & I’m excited to be joining the business at a time when the market begins to re-adjust following such a turbulent year.

'I'm focussed on building a relationship driven business, working in partnership with our customers & proving bespoke lending solutions.'

Recent data reveals the rise of non-bank lending to property. In the first half of 2022 alone, insurers and other alternative lenders collectively had a higher share of new UK real estate loans than the country’s major banks, according to the latest Bayes survey.

Pluto has a 25-strong team in London providing development, investment and bridging finance across property asset classes, with loan sizes ranging from £3m to £100 mln and leverage up to 90% LTC / 75% LTV.



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