European fintech startup Pleo appoints new CFO, fueling IPO speculation
Danish fintech startup Pleo has just announced the appointment of Soren Westh Lonning as its new chief financial officer, the $4.7 billion European fintech firm told CNBC in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. The move is seen as a strategic step in strengthening Pleo’s executive team, suggesting the company is gearing up for a potential initial public offering (IPO).
Lonning brings over two decades of experience in financial services, having worked with notable companies such as Danish bioscience firm Chr Hansen, hearing aid company WS Audiology, and Danish Endurance, a sports and outdoor clothing startup. Notably, Lonning served as CFO at Chr Hansen, a major player on the Danish stock exchange with a market cap exceeding $10 billion. The recent approval of a $22 billion merger between Chr Hansen and competitor Novozymes further underscores Lonning’s extensive financial background.
Lonning shared with CNBC his key priorities as Pleo’s new CFO, emphasizing the importance of steering the company toward profitability and maturity. He also highlighted the challenges of navigating the current macroeconomic landscape and expressed a commitment to leveraging data for informed decision-making within the business, CNBC reported.
Lonning acknowledged the common struggle for companies like Pleo, caught between the goals of growth, efficiency, and profitability. He stressed the need to adapt to the changing environment, particularly in the context of Pleo’s unique lifestyle and the broader tech sector.
While Pleo has said that it is not in a rush to go public, Lonning’s appointment symbolizes a strategic move to enhance the company’s accounting and compliance capabilities—a preparatory step for a potential stock market listing in the future.
Pleo CEO Jeppe Rindom said that the company is actively exploring various options to support its expansion, with an IPO being a significant consideration.
Pleo is “continuously evaluating various options to fuel expansion that best serve our customers.” An IPO, he said, is an “important consideration,” but “no definitive plans have been set in motion,” Rindom said.
However, he clarified that no definitive plans have been set in motion, emphasizing a responsible decision-making approach that takes market conditions and the interests of Pleo and its stakeholders into account.
“Part of the responsible decision-making that’s guided us to where we are now is an awareness of how market conditions impact public tech companies and understanding if a decision like this would be in the best interest of Pleo and our stakeholders,” he added.
Rindom sees Lonning’s addition to the team as a reinforcement of Pleo’s financial strategies, coming at a time of high growth driven by market expansion and investments targeting mid-market customers.
“Adding Søren to our team is about bolstering our financial strategies and comes at a time of high growth for Pleo driven by market expansion and investments to win mid-market customers,” he added.
Founded in 2015 by Jeppe Rindom and Niccolo Perra, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based Pleo offers smart payment cards for employees to buy things they need for work while keeping the companies in control of spending. We covered Pleo in the summer of 2021 after the startup raised a $150 million equity financing round at a $1.7 billion valuation, making it a member of the highly coveted unicorn club. The round was led by Bain Capital Ventures and Thrive Capital.