Société Générale to sell its freelancer challenger bank Shine to Ageras

Societe Generale To Sell Its Freelancer Challenger Bank Shine To Ageras

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Four years after acquiring Shine, a French fintech startup that offers bank accounts to freelancers and very small companies, Société Générale has announced plans to sell Shine to Ageras.

In 2020, TechCrunch reported that Société Générale spent around €100 million to acquire Shine. It wasn’t a huge acquisition but it attracted quite a bit of coverage at the time as it was more than just a tech or talent deal. Société Générale isn’t a name that comes up very frequently in tech startup acquisition news.

In short, the financial institution wanted to replicate BoursoBank’s success in online banking — but this time with freelancer and business banking. With today’s news, the French banking giant admits that it never really figured out what to do with Shine.

As for Ageras, you might not be familiar with the company but it has been a consolidator in the fintech and accounting space for the past few years. The Danish company was founded in 2012 as an online marketplace that matches small businesses with accountants and bookkeepers.

More recently, the startup repositioned its offering. It now wants to provide an all-in-one fintech platform for small businesses that covers banking, accounting, tax filing, etc.

The company also raised $73M in 2021 and another $88M in April 2024 (€82M), meaning that it has a ton of cash for acquisitions. Ageras acquired Billy and Salary in Denmark; Tellow in the Netherlands; Zervant, a pan-European invoicing product; and Kontist, a German challenger bank for freelancers. It has also developed Meneto, an accounting product for freelancers that reminds me of Indy in France.

As you can see, Ageras is building a portfolio of companies that offer adjacent products. In some ways, Kontist, Tellow and now Shine more or less offer the same product. When you create an account, you get an IBAN and a card. You can create invoices, receive money from your clients, get reminders when it’s time to pay your taxes and generate accounting exports.

This M&A strategy is a way to diversify the company’s footprint in Europe as fintech still remains a fragmented market — there are some outliers that manage to successfully attract customers in multiple countries but those are exceptions.

Shine currently has more than 100,000 customers while Ageras serves 300,000 customers in Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands. In 2023, Ageras reported €31.7M in revenue ($34M at today’s exchange rate).

Ageras and Société Générale have signed an exclusive acquisition agreement — with the transaction pending regulatory clearance.

While terms of the deal remain undisclosed, Ageras said it expects to close the transaction at some point during the first semester of 2025. It added that it plans to keep all of Shine’s employees and activities.


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