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Intuit in deal for payment processing firm

The firm's $142-million purchase of Electronic Clearing House would increase its offerings to small businesses.

December 15, 2006|Alana Semuels | Times Staff Writer

Financial software giant Intuit Inc. said Thursday that it would buy Electronic Clearing House Inc., a payment processing company, in a deal worth $142 million.

It is the second acquisition in less than three weeks for Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit, which makes Turbo Tax and QuickBooks software.

Electronic Clearing House Inc., based in Camarillo, provides check and bank card processing services for banks, collection agencies and retailers.

Acquiring Electronic Clearing House will enable Intuit to offer more payment processing services to clients, said Dan Wernikoff, Intuit's director of product management.

"We'll be able to offer merchants multiple ways to accept checks," he said.

Shares of Intuit rose 42 cents to $31.45, while Electronic Clearing House climbed 14 cents to $15.

The acquisition will enable Intuit to target some of the 20 million small businesses that might benefit from its software, said Glen Greene, a principal at ThinkEquity Partners in Chicago.

The deal "broadens their payment solutions capabilities and gives them more tools to sell to small business," he said.

The company said that around 6.7 million small businesses use Intuit software.

Intuit's $1.35-billion acquisition of Digital Insight Corp. announced Nov. 30 was also designed to help the company target small businesses.

Intuit employs nearly 7,000 in offices in 13 states, Canada and Britain. About 2,000 work at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, spokeswoman Diana Carlini said.

The company has not determined how the 240 Electronic Clearing House employees would be integrated into the company. Under the agreement, Intuit would pay Electronic clearing house investors $18.75 for each share of stock, a 25% premium over Thursday's close..

The transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies, and will be closed sometime in February pending regulatory appeal.

alana.semuels@latimes.com

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