Deals of the week: Intuit expands FinTech reach and back to business for Alibaba

The biggest deals of the week saw Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba return to normal service after several weeks without acquisitions, recording another $1 billion-plus deal, while US telecom giant Viacom snapped up the UK’s Channel 5 terrestrial channel in its bid for expansion into the attractive market. In the dynamic fintech segment, finance software firm Intuit is on the verge of completing a deal for bill-payment service Check. Fintech has been one of most active segments for exits in 2014 thus far, with business transfer agents certainly kept busy by a flow of acquisitions in the US and Europe. We at Acuity actively participate in the fintech market, having helped sell fintech platform Intelligent Retail in May 2013.

Intuit to add bill-payment service to its portfolio

Fintech firm Intuit is finalising a deal to acquire mobile bill-payment app Check for around $350 million. California-based Intuit provides logistical and financial management solutions for small and medium-sized businesses, and looks to enter the rapidly expanding segment of consumer-facing fintech. The Check app has 10 million users and functions as a payment/bill reminder tool that helps monitor bank accounts and credit cards. It had already raised $47 million in financing since launch in 2007. Bill payment apps are growing in popularity among consumers who are choosing digital payment over cash and debit or credit cards. In 2013, Intuit also acquired document service DocStoc, tax-return helper GoodApril and consultancy firm Level Up Analytics.

Alibaba back on the acquisition ladder

Chinese serial acquirer Alibaba has ramped up competition with its Chinese rival Tencent by purchasing 18.5% of Youku Tudou, China’s equivalent of video-sharing platform YouTube, for $1.2 billion. The acquisition was made in partnership with private equity capital firm Yunfeng Capital, which is owned by Alibaba’s executive chairman. Alibaba is increasingly expanding outside of its traditional e-commerce space and has been especially active in the multimedia segment. In March, Tencent and online retailer JD.com agreed to combine their e-commerce operations to take on rival Alibaba, a move that also aimed to target Alibaba’s weakness in mobile business.

Viacom takes on Channel 5

US telecoms major Viacom has stepped up its expansion strategy into the lucrative UK market through the acquisition of TV network Channel 5, which has both satellite and terrestrial offerings. Viacom’s bid of $760 million beat out rival interest from Discovery Communications and BSkyB. The UK holds one of the largest advertising and media markets in the world, with Viacom hoping to diversify its international portfolio, which already includes MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Viacom is the first American major to control a free-to-air broadcaster in the UK, with Channel 5’s terrestrial channel attracting around 42 million viewers a month.

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