Questions swirling around LendingClub Corp.’s leadership shakeup this week are threatening to compound a concern already weighing on its stock: Will investors keep snapping up its loans?
In interviews, people in the business of buying debts from its platform said Tuesday the company hasn’t adequately explained what prompted the shakeup, causing some to consider scaling back or delaying purchases. Separately, Jefferies Group and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are holding off, at least temporarily, on buying LendingClub loans they planned to bundle into new securities, people with knowledge of that situation said.
LendingClub had surprised the market Monday by announcing its founder and chief executive officer, Renaud Laplanche, resigned after an internal review into two incidents: The firm’s staff altered application dates on $3 million of loans before their sale, and the CEO failed to disclose his interests in a fund that LendingClub was considering investing in. The stock has plunged 42 percent since then, closing Tuesday at less than a third the price of its initial public offering in 2014.
Under acting CEO Scott Sanborn and newly named Executive Chairman Hans Morris, staff has been working long hours on phones to reassure investors in the loans, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
“We know that we have a lot of work ahead of us to just have one-on-one conversations with investors,” Chief Financial Officer Carrie Dolan told analysts shortly after the disclosures on Monday.
Still, as Tuesday wore on, at least one longtime buyer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed frustration about a continuing wait for more complete information on what happened. Some analysts said they, too, were struggling to understand why Laplanche’s exit was necessary and whether there’s more bad news to come. And officials at other lending platforms said they were keeping close tabs on investor sentiment, anticipating they might benefit from LendingClub’s stumbles.
“There are going to have to be a lot of hard conversations between Scott and Hans and all the buyers to ensure them that all the issues were found,” said Matt Burton, the CEO of Orchard Platform, which provides loan data to big investors.
Institutions that Lending Club and other online marketplaces are vying to attract “have a really high bar when it comes to systems and compliance,” he said. “We’re a new industry and still have a ways to go on that.”
Steve Swasey, a company spokesman, declined to comment for this story.