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Legal 500, 2022

Harbottle & Lewis advises Smart on $95m Series E Funding

Harbottle & Lewis has advised Smart, the London-headquartered fintech transforming the global retirement savings market, on its $95m Series E funding round led by Aquiline Capital Partners LLC, a private investment firm based in New York and London. Existing investors participating in the round included Chrysalis Investments, Fidelity International Strategic Ventures, DWS, Barclays and Natixis Investment Managers.

Funds from this investment round will bolster Smart’s global expansion plans, building on the company’s strong performance in Europe, the US, Middle East and Asia. Proceeds from the round will also help finance near-term acquisitions and accelerate Smart’s investment in and distribution of its proprietary retirement savings technology platform, Keystone. The market-leading growth and profitability of its UK-based Smart Pension business is underpinned by the scalability of the Keystone platform.

Smart has experienced a period of exceptional growth, with group revenue of £67m in 2022, a 65% increase on the previous year. In February 2023, Smart was ranked among Europe’s fastest-growing companies by the Financial Times.

Smart today already has over £5.5 billion in Assets Under Management (AUM) on its platform and is expected to exceed £10bn by the end of June 2023 following this Series E funding. Growth has been driven by the accelerating global demand for modern, digital retirement savings technology, the success of Smart Pension in the UK and strategic M&A.

Established in 2014 by Andrew Evans and Will Wynne in the wake of the UK’s roll out of mandatory workplace pension auto enrolment, Smart owns and operates one of “the big four” UK auto enrolment master trusts, Smart Pension, serving more than one million savers and 70,000 employers.

Commenting on the deal, Tony Littner, Corporate Partner and Head of Venture said: “Having advised Smart since it was a startup and on their previous funding rounds, we were delighted and proud to have had the opportunity to support them again on their latest significant milestone.  It is well-known that the environment for raising money is more challenging at the moment than it has been in recent years so for Smart to have been able to close a round of this nature at this time is a tremendous testament to the management team and their vision as well as being a welcome and positive endorsement for the state of UK fintech.”

On working with Harbottle, Eoin Corcoran, Smart CFO said “Harbottle & Lewis have done an amazing job in supporting Smart through a number of significant and complex funding rounds from the very early stages of the company to where we are today with the latest Aquiline led round. Tony Littner and Tom Macleod are highly pragmatic, experts at what they do, and perhaps most importantly, are always willing to give their views on key commercial points.

The Harbottle team which advised Smart on the transaction was led by the firm’s Head of Venture, Tony Littner, and Senior Associate Tom Macleod with support from Corporate Associates Emily Miles, Tom Connor and Katerina Capras and trainee Grace Tang.

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