Magazine article American Banker

3 More Big Banks Buy Stakes in Meca Software

Magazine article American Banker

3 More Big Banks Buy Stakes in Meca Software

Article excerpt

The ownership group of Meca Software Inc. widened this week from two banks to five, but opinions are still mixed on the venture's chances for success in the increasingly tough home banking business.

First Bank System Inc., Fleet Financial Group, and Royal Bank of Canada have joined BankAmerica Corp. and NationsBank Corp. as equal owners of Fairfield, Conn.-based Meca, maker of the Managing Your Money personal computer software that competes with Intuit Inc.'s Quicken and Microsoft's Money.

The size of the equity interests were not disclosed, but they are viewed as much-needed endorsements of Managing Your Money, which is a distant third in the personal finance market but perhaps one of the banking industry's better competitive hopes.

Thomas Brown, a senior analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, characterized the Meca consortium as a "high-class group of owners."

But the news also prompted questions as to whether five large banks with different interests can cooperate effectively on such a venture.

"I personally have a hard time seeing banks as effective managers of a software company," Mr. Brown said. "This ownership structure is destined for change."

Jeanine Brown, executive vice president of BankAmerica Corp., said that based on preliminary meetings among the partners, she feels confident that this "outspoken group" is on the same wavelength.

She also pointed out that day-to-day management of Meca will remain in the hands of its chief executive officer, Paul Harrison. The bank partners, through seats on the board, intend to participate on a strategic level. …

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