American Express is in advanced talks to buy the online small-business lender Kabbage, which is backed by investors including Japan’s SoftBank Group and Reverence Capital Partners. Photo: File
American Express is in advanced talks to buy the online small-business lender Kabbage, which is backed by investors including Japan’s SoftBank Group and Reverence Capital Partners. Photo: File

AmEx in advanced talks to buy SoftBank-backed Kabbage

Time of article published Aug 11, 2020

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By Jenny Surane and Gillian Tan

American Express is in advanced talks to buy the online small-business lender Kabbage, which is backed by investors including Japan’s SoftBank Group and Reverence Capital Partners, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The all-cash deal could value the closely held lender at as much as $850 million, including retention payments, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the deal is private. An agreement could be announced as soon as this month, the person said, though talks could still fall apart.

Marina Norville, a spokeswoman for AmEx, and Paul Bernardini of Kabbage declined to comment.

AmEx is already the largest provider of small-business credit cards in the country. With Kabbage, it could be a bigger provider of loans to mom-and-pop shops as well -- a strategy it’s already pursuing within its consumer card business.

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Kabbage furloughed hundreds of workers and suspended customer credit lines as it contended with a slowdown in spending at small businesses nationwide. More recently, the Atlanta-based firm has focused on providing small businesses with loans from the US government’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Barron’s reported earlier this month that Kabbage had hired FT Partners after receiving expressions of interest. An FT Partners representative declined to comment.

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