Freelancer.com now in online payment space with US$7.5 m Escrow.com acquisition

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Freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace1 Freelancer.com has bought Escrow.com from a private investor for US$7.5 million in cash, and completed a AUD$10 million placement of ordinary shares to institutional investors.

Escrow.com is the leading provider of secure online payments and online transaction management for consumers and businesses on the Internet, with FY14 gross payment volume of US$265 million, net revenue of US$5 million, US$1.2 million in EBITDA and over US$2.2 billion in transactions to date.

Headquartered in California, Escrow.com provides online escrow services that facilitate and accelerate e-commerce by assuring secure settlement. It was founded in 1999 by Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company and the US’s largest provider of commercial and residential mortgage and diversified services.

Escrow.com reduces the risk of fraud by acting as a trusted third party that collects, holds and disburses funds according to buyer and seller instructions. Escrow services provided by the company are licensed and regulated.

Escrow.com partners include eBay, GoDaddy, AutoTrader.com, Flippa.com and it is also a strategic partner of the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) in support of President Obama’s National Export Initiative designed to significantly grow US export volume.

Freelancer.com Chief Executive Matt Barrie said, “We are pleased to acquire Escrow.com, the world’s largest online escrow company. This highly complementary acquisition will enhance the ability of our 15 million users to transact securely, and there are large opportunities for growth and synergies with core offerings. Finally, it is a strong cornerstone for entering the payments space”.

Escrow.com President & Managing Director Brandon Abbey said, “We are excited to be joining the Freelancer.com group. Freelancer’s expertise in marketplaces, combined with our expertise in secure online payments are an excellent strategic fit.”

The Escrow.com group staff will be continuing with the California-based business.

A capital raising of AUD$10 million of ordinary shares to institutional investors was oversubscribed and has been completed to fund the acquisition, and for general corporate purposes. 10 million ordinary shares were issued at $1.00, a premium to the last close of $0.995. UBS AG, Australia Branch, was sole bookrunner for the deal. The acquisition of Escrow.com is subject to regulatory approval.

Settlement of the placement is currently scheduled to take place on Thursday, 30 April 2015, with allotment and quotation of shares expected to occur on the ASX on Friday, 1 May 2015. Escrow.com was advised in the transaction by Capstone Partners LLC.