Citicorp agreed Wednesday to buy a nonmajority stake in Meca Software LLC, the Trumbull, Conn.-based company known for its Managing Your Money personal finance software.
The deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, brings Meca its seventh owner, each holding an equal share.
Citicorp, the largest bank to buy into the company, plans to launch a Citibank-branded Internet service based on Meca technology by the end of the year. "Meca's 15 years of electronic banking and personal finance software experience ... will significantly complement the innovations we've already made at Citibank," said Edward Horowitz, executive vice president of advanced development at the holding company, Citicorp.
Ten banks currently deliver home banking services to personal computers equipped with Meca software. The company expects to add a half-dozen bank customers by the end of this year.
Meca's president and chief executive officer, Paul Harrison, said Citicorp's investment is a vote of confidence in a company that two years ago employed only 75 and was "limping along."
"Now we have 360 staff, new life, and a new direction," he said.
Meca got a new lease on life when BankAmerica Corp. and NationsBank Corp. bought it from H&R Block in July 1995 for $35 million. Royal Bank of Canada, Fleet Financial Group Inc., First Bank System Inc., and a life insurer, The New England, bought stakes last year.
Mr. Harrison said Citicorp decided to sign on after watching how Meca responded to the requirements of its owners and customers. "That gives us a high grade for our performance," he said.
Meca had trouble competing in a part of the software market dominated by Intuit Inc., which makes the popular Quicken personal finance software, and Microsoft Corp., which makes the Money program.
It recently decided to stop selling Managing Your Money in retail stores. Banks have become the primary distributors as part of their home banking offerings.
Freed from retail marketing, Meca is concentrating on developing products and services and providing technical support. It recently launched the Meca Internet Transaction Server, which provides for Internet banking. And it plans to introduce this year a "push" technology product called e.branch.