B2B Payments

RBS Lands Accounting Software Takeover In First Post-Crisis Deal

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has made its first acquisition since the financial crisis, according to The Financial Times on Tuesday (March 27).

The publication said RBS acquired FreeAgent for more than $75 million. The company provides accounting software for micro-businesses and their accountants and will help the financial institution (FI) enhance its digital offerings to small business (SMB) customers. RBS and FreeAgent have had a running partnership since 2016.

“Since the beginning of our partnership, we have been impressed by FreeAgent and its technology and are excited by the enhanced offering we will be able to provide our customers,” said RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan in a statement. “We believe that technology-enabled solution for our business banking customers will make it easier for our customers to build their businesses safely and securely.”

RBS said it intends to maintain FreeAgent as an “operationally independent member” under the RBS Group.

“Our working together represents a really compelling opportunity, and hence the board is intending to recommend the offer, which we believe makes both good strategic and financial sense,” added FreeAgent Chief Executive Ed Molyneux.

The majority of FreeAgent shareholders have already approved the deal, reports said.

According to reports, the takeover is the FI’s first since 2007, when it bid $88 billion to acquire ABN AMRO, making it the world’s largest bank by assets. The acquisition, however, contributed to financial struggles that led to a $65 billion bailout following the financial crisis.

RBS has made several recent initiatives to enhance its offerings to small business customers, though the bank is also facing intense scrutiny following revelations it mistreated SMBs and forced some into bankruptcy.

Earlier this year, RBS went on the defensive and denied allegations by U.K. policymakers that it was not entirely transparent when it was questioned by the Treasury select committee in February regarding the scandal.

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