[LONDON] International money transfer company TransferWise Ltd said it's valued at US$3.5 billion following a secondary share offering.
Funds managed by BlackRock Inc joined in the US$292 million investment round in the London-based company, which was led by Lead Edge Capital, along with Lone Pine Capital and Vitruvian Partners, TransferWise said in a statement.
Existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Baillie Gifford & Co, the Scottish investment manager, increased their stakes as part of the deal, the company said.
Eight-year-old TransferWise is among a crop of fintech firms to have sprung up in recent years, promising to reinvent financial markets, lower costs and increase transparency. Along with peers such as Revolut Ltd, the startups are gaining ground on banks that have traditionally dominated the market for wholesale payments and cash management.
The shares being offered came from early investors as well as from co-founders and "hundreds" of rank-and-file employees, Taavet Hinrikus, TransferWise's co-founder and chairman, said in an interview ahead of the announcement.
None of TransferWise's institutional investors sold shares as part of the offering and Hinrikus and his co-founder, Kristo Kaarmann, who is the company's chief executive officer, retain more than 80 per cent of their shares in the firm.
"I am super excited that we can turn this monopoly money for employees into real dollars," Mr Hinrikus said, referring to the stock options TransferWise grants all of its employees.
TransferWise, which has been profitable since 2017, didn't need further investment, Mr Hinrikus said, but investors had been clamouring to put money into the firm and the secondary offering seemed like a good way to reward early individual backers and employees.
"Back in the old days, we would have been a public company by now," Mr Hinrikus said. TransferWise still might go public someday, but the secondary offering brings the company potentially several more years until it would need to take that step, he said.
The latest sale of shares brings investors' total stake in TransferWise to US$689 million, including the primary and secondary markets, the company said.
Founded in 2011, the London-based financial technology firm offers customers a low-cost way to transfer money abroad. It now has than 5 million users and currently handles more than £4 billion (S$7 billion) in payments every month, according to the company.
TransferWise currently employs 1,600 people across the globe, and plans to boost that by an additional 750 employees in the next 12 months. It's hiring in London, New York, Singapore, Budapest and Tallinn, Estonia, among other locations, adding engineers, data scientists and people working on product development.