The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has approved the acquisition of Experian Payments Gateway (EPG) by B2B payments firm Bottomline Technologies after finding the deal won’t negatively impact competition, according to a CMA report on Tuesday (Feb. 18).
The comprehensive investigation by the CMA — conducted by an independent panel — has provisionally found that there are no competition concerns regarding Bottomline’s $12.5 million purchase of EPG. The acquisition was referred for an in-depth probe following concerns that resulted from CMA’s initial Phase 1 investigation in October. The CMA was concerned that the merger could “reduce competition and the merged company may increase prices, reduce product availability, or reduce its investment in innovation,” the statement said.
EPG is no longer a strong force in the market and there are plenty of alternatives, the CMA said. Both companies provide business-to-business (B2B) payments solutions that enable businesses to submit direct debits, make payroll payments and pay suppliers. The combined entity enables businesses to make payments via the Bacs and Faster Payments Direct Corporate Access systems.
“The CMA also looked in more detail at the possibility that, under alternative ownership, EPG would have become a more active competitor than it was before the merger but provisionally determined that this was not the case,” the statement said.
The CMA is now looking for input on these findings by March 10 and will assess all evidence provided before making a final decision. The statutory deadline for the CMA’s final report is April 5.
Bottomline announced in March that it was acquiring EPG in a $12.5 million deal. Months later, the CMA ordered Bottomline to ensure that data between the two enterprise software companies would be segregated to protect sensitive information.
Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Portsmouth, N.H., Bottomline Technologies is currently the largest B2B supplier of Bacs payment software in the U.K. and EPG was its largest rival.