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Atom Bank Set to Make Will.i.am the Voice of Fintech Disruption?

Tim Maytom

Mobile-first financial services firm Atom Bank has reportedly struck a deal with rapper and producer Will.i.am that will see him act as a consultant and board member at the company.

According to Sky News, the bank, which was created by one of the entrepreneurs behind Metro Bank, sought out Will.i.am as a way to differentiate itself among the increasingly crowded playing field of mobile-first banks.

Shareholders in Atom Bank have been briefed on Will.i.am's addition to the board, according to an industry source, although his identity has yet to be disclosed to existing investors.

Will.i.am, who also acts as a judge on TV talent show The Voice UK, will reportedly attend board meetings, engage in public relations activities and promote the firm on social media and other digital media platforms. In return, he will have an option to acquire up to 3.55m shares at a price of £1.15 per share over the course of three years.

Atom is expected to hold a shareholder meeting early next month to approve a new fundraising plan, which could see around £100m being invested in the firm by existing and new investors. An announcement of Will.i.am's deal with the company is expected to come around the same period.

The next round of funding could prove vital for Atom, which is seeking to diversify its financial services into mortgages and other lending products. Existing investor BBVA, one of Spain's biggest lenders, could own more than 30 per cent of the company, depending on exactly how the next round is structured, which would trigger a mandatory offer for the remaining shares under UK takeover codes.

The company is reportedly seeking a waiver from the Takeover Panel to avoid that offer being made, as well as approval from Britain's banking regulator, which is required when a single shareholder owns at least 30 per cent of a regulated financial institution.

Whether Atom is successful in avoiding the takeover offer or not, the next round of funding will likely take the amount raised by the company well over £200m. The firm has taken more than £110m in deposits across its fixed-rate saver accounts, and employs more than 250 people.

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