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Net biller picks up tab on Paytrust

The deal will add to Metavante's stable of clients some 50 new billers, including companies such as American Express, Citibank and Capital One.

Metavante has agreed to acquire the assets of Paytrust in a merger of providers of online billing and payment services.

The deal will add to Metavante's stable of clients some 50 new billers, including companies such as American Express, Citibank and Capital One.

"This starts to get us to a critical mass of end billers," said Tim Patneaude, vice president and solution strategy manager for Metavante. "With American Express and Capital One, you're starting to talk about a sufficient portion of the consumer credit card base that you can present to customers if present through Metavante."

Paytrust had been in talks with Metavante for a "long time," said Ed McLaughlin, executive vice president of Paytrust. The companies seemed to be a good match for each other, he said.

"This is obviously a scale business," McLaughlin said. "We thought Metavante was the perfect partner for us and for our business."

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Banks have been struggling for years to convince customers to adopt online bill payment. Many hoped to attract customers by aggregating bills all in one place, though relatively few consumers have chosen to do that. Instead, consumers have increasingly gone directly to billers' Web sites--everything from their telephone to their credit card company--to view and pay their bills.

Metavante, which previously concentrated on providing services to banks, has increasingly focused on providing presentment services to billers. The company purchased CyberBills and Derivion last year, picking up each company's relationships with enterprise customers.

Metavante signed an agreement to purchase closely held Paytrust on Tuesday. The companies expect the deal to close later this month, pending regulatory approval.

Patneaude did not know whether the acquisition would lead to any job cuts or how it would affect the management team at Paytrust.

Metavante said it would consolidate its bill-aggregation services on to one technology platform following the acquisition. However, Patneaude did not know which of its services the company would choose among those offered by Paytrust and CyberBills.

"Nothing's been pre-decided," he said. "We're all going to sit down and make those decisions."

Metavante estimated that integration costs for the acquisition would total $6 million after taxes. The company said it expected the deal to be accretive to its earnings in 2003.