Bolt asks for €50 million loan from state

Bolt electric scooters parked in front of Tallinn Bus Station.
Bolt electric scooters parked in front of Tallinn Bus Station. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Estonian taxi-hailing and courier company Bolt, whose revenue has dropped by 85 percent, is asking for help to borrow €50 million from Estonia, various sources are writing.

Bolt´s founders Martin and Markus Villig wrote in a letter to the government that current support mechanisms, especially KredEx´s emergency loans and loan guarantees are not helping them, Postimees writes (link in Estonian). The KredEx loan limit is only €5 million, which is not enough for Bolt, whose services can be found worldwide, the Villigs wrote.

The brothers state in the letter the minimum requirement for money for the currently loss-making company, starting from April, is €15 million a month, for the coming months.

The Villigs have approached, with their loan guarantee from KredEx, the biggest commercial banks. However, these haven´t met with their wishes either, and according to the two entrepreneurs, the main issue is that KredEx has promised cover 90 percent of anybank´s loan losses, whereas the banks want KredEx to pay 90 percent of the principal amount of the loan as a fixed sum.

As an unprofitable start-up, Bolt is not complying with the standards for credit decision requirements set by the banks, the newspaper notes.

Bolt already has EIB loan agreement signed

However, over the last financial year, Bolt signed a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB). The agreement states that the bank supports Bolt's product development and expansion to the tune of 50 million euros, DigiPRO writes (link in Estonian).

It was not until the beginning of this month that Markus Villig told DigiPRO that the company's core business had fallen by 20-30 percent, and that employees' salaries had been reduced.

Bolt is one of the two "unicorns" in Estonia, meaning a company with a market value of one billion, and the only one whose headquarters are still in Estonia. The platform has one million drivers internationally, 40 million customers in 150 cities in 35 countries in the EU and Africa. Before the global coronavirus emergency, the Bolt platform saw almost a million trips a day using its services. The company also offers home food delivery of food, electric scooter rental, during the summer months, and a courier service.

The company has 1,500 employees, 515 of whom work in Estonia.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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