LoanDepot considering IPO at up to $15B valuation

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Mortgage lender loanDepot is taking steps toward rebooting plans for an initial public offering, about five years after scrapping one at the last minute, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The company could be worth $12 billion to $15 billion in an IPO, said one of the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public.

The company has held discussions with potential underwriters for an IPO that could come as soon as soon as the fourth quarter, the people said. No final decision has been made and its plans could change.

"We continue to evaluate capital options and are excited about our industry position," Chief Executive Officer Anthony Hsieh said in an interview.

LoanDepot pulled its IPO plans in 2015, hours before it was set to price. The move came as rival LendingClub Corp.'s shares were slumping and there were indications that loanDepot was poised to sell shares below its target price.

The company, backed by Parthenon Capital Partners, had sought a market value of $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion at the time.

Lenders have been racing to make new mortgages during the pandemic, prompted by homeowners taking advantage of record-low interest rates and unprecedented purchases by the Federal Reserve. The Mortgage Bankers Association forecasts $3 trillion in new mortgages this year, a roughly 37% increase from 2019. The demand for credit has swamped lenders, enabling them to charge relatively higher prices, fattening their bottom lines.

Founded in 2010, loanDepot enables borrowers to secure mortgages entirely with digital documentation, its website shows. The company has funded over $212 billion in loans, which it says ranks it as the second-largest retail nonbank lender, behind Dan Gilbert's Rocket Cos.

Rocket, the parent of Quicken Loans, has gained about 26% since going public in August.

"We are the Lyft to their Uber," Hsieh said. "The momentum for nonbank lending is here to stay. We're here to fuel the American dream."

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