Fifth Third Invests in Online Lender ApplePie

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Fifth Third Bancorp has invested in an online lending firm that makes loans to franchisees of popular retail chains.

ApplePie Capital, based in San Francisco, said Monday that it has raised $16.5 million in venture funding from Fifth Third Capital, QED Investors and other investment groups. Fifth Third Capital is the venture capital arm of Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp. It did not disclose the exact amount of its investment in ApplePie.

The deal marks Fifth Third second investment in an alternative lender in recent months. In September, Fifth Third invested $50 million in GreenSky LLC, an Atlanta firm that offers point-of-sale home improvement loans at Home Depot.

ApplePie also announced Monday that it has entered into an agreement with investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners to sell to TowerGroup $180 million of loans it intends to originate over a two-year period. Fifth Third is also considering purchasing ApplePie loans for its own portfolio, AppliePie said.

ApplePie has established 40 partnerships with franchise companies and has issued $50 million of loans since forming less than two years ago.

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