Virtual Piggy, owner of the youth payment service called Oink, announced April 10 it had hired a "financial advisor to explore strategic alternatives," which often means a company may soon seek a buyer or investor.

Virtual Piggy retained Viant Capital LLC as a financial advisor and Viant founder and managing director Scott Smith will be focused on Virtual Piggy. "We are thrilled to be working with Viant and Scott Smith, who will be bringing his over 30 years of financial structuring of public and private companies, fundraising and M&A experience," said Jo Webber, Virtual Piggy's chairman and CEO, in a press release. Viant represents several retailers and financial institutions.

The company did not provide details about why it's seeking an advisor, and did not provide an executive for an interview by deadline.

 “Given recent developments in the payments space, including the legal challenges online retailers are facing related to minors and payments, the company felt it was important to retain a technology-focused investment bank to help explore various strategic options," Webber said.  

An executive familiar with the thinking of Virtual Piggy's management said the current risk environment, in which retailers face regulatory and legal scrutiny stemming from youth-oriented commerce, puts Virtual Piggy in an attractive position to attract investors or buyers because the company's practice of funneling all purchase requests to parents or guardians eliminates the chance that minors will buy products illegally online.   

Virtual Piggy partners with e-commerce companies to serve different market verticals, and has also been trying to move into the brick-and-mortar world with a deal with Discover.

Virtual Piggy also announced "the formation of a special committee of the company's board of directors to work closely with Viant" and the members of that committee will be Webber, George McDaniel, Chairman of Saber Power Services, LLC, and William Tobia, former CFO of Maxwell Systems, Inc.

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