Lex Greensill

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Person.png Lex Greensill  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(solicitor, financier)
Lex Greensill.png
BornAlexander David Greensill
December 1976
Alma materManchester Business School
Founder ofGreensill Capital

Lex Greensill (born December 1976) is an Australian solicitor and financier, best known for being the founder of Greensill Capital, a company focused on Supply Chain Finance and derivative financial products that on 8 March 2021 filed for insolvency protection and faced legal scrutiny.[1]

On 11 April 2021, the Sunday Times reported that Health Secretary Matt Hancock met former PM David Cameron and financier Lex Greensill for a "private drink" in 2019 to discuss a new payment scheme for the NHS. It is the latest in a series of disclosures about Cameron's lobbying work since leaving office and beginning work at Greensill Capital. In 2020 David Cameron tried unsuccessfully to lobby the government to increase Greensill's access to government-backed loans during the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Cameron pressed Treasury officials – and sent text messages to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's personal phone – to access emergency funding for Greensill Capital.[2]

Boardman review

On 12 April 2021, Boris Johnson's government announced a review into David Cameron's lobbying. The review will be led by Nigel Boardman, a partner at law firm Slaughter and May, and will report to Johnson by the end of May. Boardman will step aside from his role as a non-executive director at Britain's BEIS ministry during his investigation:

"The Prime Minister has asked Mr Boardman to conduct a review that will look into the decisions taken around the development and use of Supply Chain Finance (and associated schemes) in government, especially the role of Lex Greensill and Greensill Capital," the government said.

Labour reaction

Responding to the announcement of the review into Greensill Capital's activities, Labour's Rachel Reeves said:

"This has all the hallmarks of another cover-up by the Conservatives.
"Just as with the inquiry into Priti Patel's alleged bullying, this is another Conservative government attempt to push bad behaviour into the long grass and hope the British public forgets.
"The Conservatives can't be trusted to yet again mark their own homework.
"We need answers on Greensill now - that means key players in this cronyism scandal like David Cameron, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock appearing openly in front of parliament as soon as possible to answer questions."[3]

Boardman report

Nigel Boardman's report was published on 22 July 2021.

Boardman’s report said Lex Greensill, the owner of Greensill Capital, was given “extraordinarily privileged” access to Downing Street while the government’s process for managing lobbying was found to be insufficiently transparent given it allows access to a “privileged few”.

Cameron also “understated” the nature of his relationship with Greensill when lobbying officials, the report added, also concluding that former cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood was “primarily responsible” for Lex Greensill securing a role in government as an adviser on supply chain finance.

However while the system of lobbying rules could be improved, the current ones “worked well”, Boardman said, adding that lobbying was “vital to the proper functioning of democracy” and that Cameron broke no rules or laws.

The second part of Boardman's review will flesh out his recommended changes to the system of rules, but its publication date has not yet been confirmed.


Given Boardman’s report shied away from directly criticising ministers and advisers who were lobbied by Cameron and Greensill, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner called it a “classic Boris Johnson cover-up and whitewash to protect the government”.

Lord Heywood’s widow, Suzanne, said the findings were a “convenient diversion from the embarrassment” Greensill Capital’s collapse had caused for the government, and said Boardman’s work was the result of a “deeply flawed process from beginning to end” that had ended up “scapegoating” her late husband.

Cameron said he was “pleased that the report provides further confirmation that I broke no rules”, but conceded there should be “more formal lines of communication” for lobbying.[4]

David Cameron's statement

On 11 April 2021, former PM David Cameron released a statement:

“Since the collapse of Greensill Capital, many questions have been raised about my dealings with Lex Greensill in government, and my subsequent involvement with the company.

“I completely understand the public interest in this issue, given the impact of Greensill’s collapse on the hundreds of people who worked for the company and on other businesses and livelihoods. I feel desperately sorry for those affected.

“I also worry about the future of firms like GFG Alliance and the many jobs that could be on the line, which are linked to what has happened at Greensill.

“It’s important to understand that I was not on the Board of Greensill Capital, nor was I a member of the Risk or Credit Committees.

“I played no role in the decisions to extend credit, or the terms on which such credit was extended, to GFG or any other customer. But that is little comfort to the many who worry about the firm’s future and their jobs. They are very much in my thoughts throughout this difficult and uncertain period.

“Having said this, many of the allegations that have been made about these issues are not correct.

“Lex Greensill was brought in to work with the Government by the former Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, in 2011. He was not a political appointee, but part of the Civil Service drive to improve government efficiency.

“In bringing him in, Jeremy was acting in good faith to solve a real problem – how to ensure companies in supply chains, particularly SMEs, could access low cost credit.

“The false impression has been created that Lex Greensill was a close member of my team, meeting with me on a regular basis. The truth is, I had very little to do with Lex Greensill at this stage – as I recall, I met him twice at most in the entirety of my time as Prime Minister.

“The Government supported his initiative to encourage large companies to use Supply Chain Finance (SCF) to enable their suppliers to access low cost credit.

“I announced this initiative as Prime Minister in October 2012. I made it clear that the Government would play its part through the community pharmacy scheme, ensuring that thousands of pharmacies could get early payment to improve their access to credit and cash flow.

“This scheme has successfully reduced costs to the NHS and enabled many thousands of pharmacies to access early payments and low cost credit.

“The idea of my working for Greensill was never raised, or considered by me, until well after I left office.

“I took up the position as a part-time Senior Adviser to Greensill Capital in August 2018. This was shortly after General Atlantic, one of the most respected international backers of tech sector companies, invested in the company. Large financial institutions, like Credit Suisse, were helping to enable Greensill’s expansion.

“Likewise, well-known international blue-chip companies such as Airbus, Vodafone, Nissan, AstraZeneca, Ford and Oracle contracted and partnered with Greensill Capital. The company had a strong board, with experienced figures from business, banking and finance.

“I was not a director of the company, and was not involved in the oversight of management, or the day to day running of the business. I was contracted to work for the company for 25 days per year (details of my other activities since leaving Downing Street are set out at the end of this statement).

“My remuneration was partly in the form of a grant of shares. Their value was nowhere near the amount speculated in the press.

“Part of my motivation for accepting the role was my desire to work for a UK-based, entrepreneurial, early stage finance and technology venture, rather than simply work with larger, more well-known financial institutions.

“I remain proud that during my time as Prime Minister the UK became a global centre of the new and emerging FinTech industry. Greensill was one of the fastest growing UK FinTech businesses. I was attracted by the solution it offered, supporting businesses to gain access to working capital.

“I later became an enthusiastic advocate for Greensill’s pay product, Earnd, which enabled employees to see and access their pay as they earn it, in real-time and, crucially, for free, with no charges or interest rates, rather than having to wait until the end of the month. This was, to my mind, an antidote to exploitative payday lending schemes.

“My responsibilities included providing geopolitical advice to the leadership, helping to win new business, speaking for the company at conferences and events, and helping with plans for international expansion.

“As part of my work, I assisted with presentations made by the company overseas, including in the US, Singapore, South Africa, Australia and the Gulf. While visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in January 2020 to advise on their forthcoming chairmanship of the G20, I also – with Lex Greensill – met with a range of business and political leaders, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“As the Softbank Vision Fund was by this time the largest investor in Greensill, the company was, in effect, part owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (itself a major participant in the Vision Fund).

“Greensill planned to open a new regional office in Riyadh as part of its international expansion and I wanted to assist in this effort. While in Saudi Arabia, I took the opportunity to raise concerns about human rights, as I always did when meeting the Saudi leadership when I was Prime Minister.

“Like many businesses in 2020, Greensill – and many of its clients – was negatively affected by Covid-19. Companies facing challenging financial markets, especially ones whose activities impacted many other businesses, were encouraged to make representations to the Government.

“I made representations to the Treasury and others about the potential for the company to continue to play its part in extending credit to businesses, particularly via the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). (The approach proposed by Greensill mirrored very closely action that had been taken during the financial crisis in 2008/09, when Supply Chain Finance bonds were included in a similar financing facility).

“While I understand the concern about the ability of former ministers – and especially Prime Ministers – to access government decision makers and the sense, and reality, of ease of access and familiarity, I thought it was right for me to make representations on behalf of a company involved in financing a large number of UK firms. This was at a time of crisis for the UK economy, where everyone was looking for efficient ways to get money to businesses.

“It was also appropriate for the Treasury to consider these representations.

“Concern has been raised about the nature of my contact, via text message and e-mail. I understand that concern, but context is important: at that time the Government was – quite rightly – making rapid decisions about the best way to support the real economy and welcomed real time information and dialogue.

“It was a time of national crisis with fears about businesses’ access to credit. Greensill Capital wanted to offer a genuine and legitimate proposal to help with this.

“As part of my work for Greensill, I also discussed their solutions for supply chain finance and their pay product, Earnd, with others. This included various people to discuss the roll out of Earnd across the NHS, where it was being offered for free as part of Greensill’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme. Greensill met all costs themselves.

“I was attracted to Earnd as an exciting and innovative product with the real potential to help employees with their finances, not least being able to get paid at the end of their shift, rather than at the end of the month. I considered it important that Earnd would remain forever free to use for all workers and public sector employers.

“In my representations to government, I was breaking no codes of conduct and no government rules. The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists has found that my activities did not fall within the criteria that require registration.

“Ultimately, the outcome of the discussions I encouraged about how Greensill’s proposals might be included in the Government’s CCFF initiative – and help in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis – was that they were not taken up.

“So, I complied with the rules and my interventions did not lead to a change in the Government’s approach to the CCFF.

“However, I have reflected on this at length. There are important lessons to be learnt. As a former Prime Minister, I accept that communications with government need to be done through only the most formal of channels, so there can be no room for misinterpretation.

“There have been various charges levelled against me these past weeks, mainly that I made representations to the Government on behalf of a company I worked for. I did.

“Not just because I thought it would benefit the company, but because I sincerely believed there would be a material benefit for UK businesses at a challenging time.

“That was, in large part, my reason for working for Greensill in the first place. I deeply regret that Greensill has gone into administration, but the central idea behind their key product – using modern technology and deep capital markets in order to help firms be better financed, to grow and create jobs – was a good one."[5]

Audio interview

In August 2020, Wharton Fintech Co-President, Miguel Armaza, sat down with Lex Greensill, Founder and CEO of Greensill Capital, a leading provider of working capital and Supply Chain Finance solutions for businesses and individuals around the world.[6]

Founded in 2011, Greensill Capital employs over 1,000 people worldwide and has raised close to $1.3 billion in equity from some of the largest funds in the industry, including SoftBank and General Atlantic.

Lex Greensill grew up in a family of farmers from the countryside of Queensland, Australia. Upon graduating high school, Lex recognised the family business was experiencing challenging times and decided to attend night school for university while working on the farm during the day. Living through a trying financial experience helped him realise the working capital difficulties of the farming industry. Farmers invest a lot of time and resources to produce their products and then need to wait an additional few months after delivery to get paid.

Lex eventually left the family farm and joined a Supply Chain Finance startup in Australia, where they would help businesses get paid early by charging a small fee. Although the business eventually failed and went bankrupt, he saw a lot of value in the product and decided he was going to try to build a better version of the company elsewhere. This place ended up being Morgan Stanley, which he joined after moving to the UK to pursue his MBA. A successful sting at MS eventually led him to Citigroup, where Mr. Greensill continued focusing on Working Capital financing and helped build Citi’s Trade Finance EMEA franchise. During his time at Citi, he also realized the floor was shifting underneath their feet and new technologies were driving innovation and large banks like Citi were not able to adapt at an appropriate pace. So, he figured he would try to build a better product by himself and left Citi to launch Greensill Capital in 2011.

To launch the company, Lex decided to go back to his roots to focus on helping Australian farmers secure financing. The initial goal of the firm was to serve those businesses considered too small for large banks like Citi and Morgan Stanley and he never imagined Greensill Capital would eventually be competing with big banks and serving all types of clients.

Organic and Inorganic Growth

Over the last nine years, Greensill Capital has evolved from a two-person startup to an institution with over 1,000 people that provided over $140Bn worth of credit in 2019 to businesses in 175 countries. In Lex’s own words, they never imagined the company would be this big, yet in 2020 they still only serve less than 0.10% of the global Supply Chain financing market, representing an enormous opportunity to go after.

Although most of their results come from organic growth, Greensill has not been afraid to be acquisitive and over the last four years has acquired four companies, including NordFinanz Bank, a well-capitalised bank in Germany that has been a liquidity engine to the company, and, most recently, Omni, a Latin American working capital startup based in Colombia and Chile. The Omni acquisition is also a recognition of the potential of the Latin American market, where you need local operators and a local strategy to succeed.

Importance of Human Capital

Over the years, Greensill has managed to attract outstanding industry talent, including Managing Directors and senior leaders from some of the largest banks in the world. Lex credits their company culture as the main recruiting tool, where every employee is a shareholder and shares a single annual equity bonus pool. This culture of ownership makes everyone pull in the same direction and have the same north star. In addition, Greensill’s mission of aiming to change the way finance works has inspired candidates who want to make a difference and be part of something that aims to leave a better world behind.

Greensill’s exponential annual growth has also presented new challenges for Lex. He has had to adapt from managing small teams to now leading a complex and global organisation with over 1,000 people. He credits his board, mentors, and leadership team for helping him navigate these challenges while also managing and growing the business.

Supply Chain Finance in Times of COVID

Although the COVID-19 crisis has been challenging for the industry, Greensill Capital is actually thriving these days. Annual volumes have doubled year over year and investor appetite for their asset class has also risen. They have never seen this level of demand. The pressures of the crisis have led companies and individual clients to demand financing solutions allowing them to get paid faster for goods and services that have already been delivered and completed. On the other hand, the decline of rates and a flattening yield curve has drawn new investors and increased demand for short-term trade finance assets. Short duration liabilities are temporarily appealing to investors who usually buy assets with much longer maturities. As a result, at a time where a lot of financial institutions are cutting back financing, Greensill has been able to increase the supply of capital to its clients.

On Entrepreneurship

Lex remembers his mother always used to point out how he loved building Lego, but once they were done he would pull them apart and build something else. In a way, this represents his entrepreneurial nature. While he encourages everyone to try their hand at entrepreneurship, he also recognises it’s not an easy or straight path. Entrepreneurs encounter plenty of bumps in the road to executing their vision and trade away certainty for excitement. However, the adrenaline rush of being part of creating something new makes all of it worth the while.

Lex Greensill, Co-founder and CEO of Greensill Capital, saw first-hand the impact that an inefficient financial supply chain can have on a family’s finances, growing up on his parents’ sugar cane farm in Australia. Farming sugar cane is highly inefficient when it comes to working capital and getting paid. It takes up to 18 months to grow the crop and then another 12 months to get paid for it.

Lex’s parents couldn’t afford to send him to university. He clerked at a country law firm, studied law at by correspondence at night and worked pro-bono for the Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association with a brief to make sure farmers got paid promptly. That principle, and the payment code Lex devised for farmers in Australia, became the foundation of Greensill that still guides the company today.

Lex’s vision was always to make finance fairer for everybody. As a business, Greensill is harnessing its technology and financial expertise to accelerate the movement of cash into the real economy.

Lex previously established the global SCF business at Morgan Stanley and led the EMEA SCF business at Citi.

Lex holds an MBA from Manchester Business School and is a Solicitor of the Supreme Courts of England and Wales, and Queensland.

In 2018, Lex was awarded the CBE for services to the UK economy.

About Greensill

Greensill Capital makes access to finance faster, cheaper and fairer. Powered by financial technology but with deep expertise in credit management, we accelerate the movement of capital to where it is needed most, in the real economy. And through our vision of equal access to finance, we want to revolutionise the world of work, so no-one should have to wait to be paid.

Greensill is the market-leading provider of working capital finance for businesses and people globally. Our more than 800 specialists worldwide have provided $143bn of financing in 2019 to more than 8m customers and suppliers in over 175 countries.[7]


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