EQT acquires Billtrust, a company that automates the bill-to-collect process, for $1.7 billion • TechCrunch
Billtrust, a company developing a platform to automate the cash invoicing process, announced today that it has agreed to be acquired by EQT, the Sweden-based private equity firm, for 1.7 billion dollars in an all-cash deal. Approved by Billtrust’s Board of Directors, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023 subject to approval by Billtrust shareholders and regulators.
Shareholders will receive $9.50 per share in cash upon Billtrust’s transition to a private company, a 64% premium to the Sept. 27 closing price of $5.77. Shares of the company have remained relatively stable in recent years, peaking at around $19 per share in February 2021 before peaking at $4.51 in June.
Billtrust, headquartered in New Jersey, was founded in 2001 as a five-person company by Flint Lane, a former Accenture staffer. It quickly grew to offer software-as-a-service (SaaS) products to manage business billing, including electronic billing and payments for personal and business billing services.
Before going public through a SPAC merger in 2020, Billtrust completed nine acquisitions — the most recent of Order2Cash, a cash process management platform — and raised more than $100 million in capital risk. At one time, its customers included a number of newspaper groups, which used Billtrust to power online billing for subscriptions.
“This transaction marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Billtrust, our clients and our employees while providing shareholders with immediate and substantial cash value at a compelling premium,” Lane said in a statement. “We believe B2B payments and accounts receivable continue to be ripe for massive disruption and innovation, and our partnership with EQT will provide us with more resources and flexibility to strengthen our leadership position.”
It should be noted that there is no shortage of vendors competing for business in the accounts receivable and payment cycle management space. There’s Upflow, Tipalti, HighRadius, Rimilia, Hanse Orga, and Quadient-owned YayPay, which offer SaaS products focused on collecting money from unpaid bills. Yaydoo and Tesorio aim to simplify collections more broadly. Another startup, Churpy, helps businesses primarily in Africa reconcile and manage their payments.
A major challenge for Billtrust and its competitors is convincing companies that they need the software. This is a barrier in any industry, but especially in finance, where teams are likely to perceive their processes as modern enough. Billtrust’s own research found that while 86% of customer account teams rate their service as “very” or “somewhat” modernized, 40% offer no self-service features, while more than 60% have not digitized the majority of their invoices. .
But the opportunity is huge. According to a report by business intelligence firm Axiom Groupe, the cash billing market alone could reach $3 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual interest rate of 12.1% from 2019.
For EQT, which manages approximately $100 billion in assets, the acquisition represents the latest in a series of diverse mega-deals. In July, the company announced plans to buy solar and storage developer Cypress Creek Renewables for about $2 billion. A year earlier, EQT snapped up Spanish property internet portal Idealista for 1.3 billion euros (~$1.24 billion).
Commenting on the acquisition of Billtrust, Arvindh Kumar, partner in EQT’s global technology team, said in a press release: “The Billtrust platform offers modern solutions, a compelling value proposition and, as EQT, a commitment to innovation and transformation in the digital age. Additionally, the company operates at the intersection of software, fintech and payments – industries in which EQT has deep knowledge and a track record of success.