EQT to take payments firm Billtrust private in $1.7 bln deal

REUTERS/Gary Cameron/Files/File Photo

Sept 28 (Reuters) - Private equity firm EQT on Wednesday agreed to take the owner of business payments firm Billtrust private through a $1.7 billion all-cash deal.

Shareholders of BTRS Holdings Inc (BTRS.O) will receive $9.50 for each share, representing a 64% premium to Tuesday's closing price. BTRS shares ended the day at $9.28, having jumped to that level following the deal announcement.

Reuters was first to report in July that Billtrust was exploring options including a sale.

Private lender Sixth Street provided much of a loan that EQT Private Equity is using to back the purchase, a source aware of the matter said, without specifying the loan's size.

The financing, which included two other direct lenders, is the latest example of alternative capital providers stepping in to fund leveraged buyouts, as traditional banks pulled back from riskier credits in recent months after struggling with losses linked to loans offered earlier this year.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. Billtrust went public nearly two years ago, following a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

BTRS's stock initially rode the wave of interest in payments companies from investors eager to tap into the boom in digital commerce supercharged by COVID-19 lockdown measures.

As rising interest rates this year have hurt high-growth tech stocks, valuations of payments processors have collapsed, pushing some to explore sales and attracting private equity firms with history in the space.

EQT was drawn to Billtrust's high quality product and strong growth potential, including through geographic expansion, a second source said.

Lawrenceville, New Jersey-based Billtrust provides a cloud-based software that helps businesses shift from paper invoicing to an integrated digital payments system.

EQT, meanwhile, manages 77 billion euros ($73.91 billion) in assets as of June 30 this year, with portfolio companies in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas.

($1 = 1.0418 euros)

Reporting by Mehnaz Yasmin in Bengaluru and David French and Shankar Ramakrishnan in New York; Editing by Anirban Sen and Bill Berkrot

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