A year, almost to the date, after credit card network Visa and fintech company Plaid announced they plan to merge, the two companies announced Tuesday they are calling off the $5.3 billion deal amid antitrust scrutiny of the transaction by the U.S. federal government.
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In November, the U.S. Department of Justice filed antitrust litigation that alleged Visa’s acquisition of Plaid would eliminate competition in the online debit market and thereby enable Visa to have a monopoly.
The scrapped deal is similar to an announcement made last week by Procter & Gamble and Billie, a subscription service for shaving and body-care products for women, when those two companies said they, too, would terminate their planned merger following a lawsuit from federal regulators alleging the deal was anticompetitive. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in December to challenge the merger, saying the deal would have “eliminated dynamic competition from Billie.”
With regard to Plaid, Al Kelly, chairman and CEO of Visa, said in a statement, “We are confident we would have prevailed in court as Plaid’s capabilities are complementary to Visa’s, not competitive. We believe the combination of Visa with Plaid would have delivered significant benefits, including greater innovation for developers, financial institutions and consumers. However, it has been a full year since we first announced our intent to acquire Plaid, and protracted and complex litigation will likely take substantial time to fully resolve.”
In announcing the termination on Twitter, Plaid posted, “Plaid and Visa would have been a great combination, but lengthy litigation would interrupt, not accelerate, the work we are doing to build the infrastructure supporting fintech. We’ll continue to work with Visa as an investor and partner.”
Meanwhile, in his written statement, Plaid co-founder and CEO Zach Perret added, “This past year saw an unprecedented uptick in demand for the services powered by Plaid, and our priority is to support the hundreds of millions of people who now rely on fintech. We made great strides last year, growing our customers by more than sixty percent and adding hundreds of banks to our platform.”
Some early comments floating around Twitter include:
Failed M&A events are psychologically and emotionally draining, but @zachperret and the @plaid team have an opportunity to build a generational platform.
I think they will look back on this event and see it as an accidental blessing.
— Jeff Lu (@JiffyLu) January 12, 2021
1/ @Plaid underpins virtually all of fintech; it is the strategic pillar that is allowing this industry to be built at unprecedented scale and speed. While I believe the DOJ decision to be misguided, I’m MORE excited for @plaid and @zachperret‘s decision to remain independent.
— Alex Rampell (@arampell) January 12, 2021
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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