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Atos to Float Worldline by Mid-2014

Atos has unveiled its financial objectives for its Worldline unit. The company is to float Worldline by mid-2014, while keeping a majority stake in the company. Proceeds from the IPO are to finance organic growth and especially acquisitions.

Financial objectives for the 2013-2017 period include:

  • Revenue growth of 5% to 7% (2013-2017 CAGR) all organic (2012 revenues €1,066m, +5%; 2013 estimate +5%)
  • At least a 200 bps increase in its operating margin (before depreciation and amortization) by 2016 (to ~20.0%), from 2013 (2012: 17.2%; 2013 estimate ~18.0%).

Organic revenue will come from:

  • Growth in payment volume counterbalanced by pricing pressure
  • Clients investing in their payment and digital software, as a result of
    - Regulatory changes such as SEPA 
    - Consumer behavior changes e.g. mobile payment and wallets; "drive" in the retail industry; 
    - Changes in the market: M2M or value-add services: card analytics, fraud management
  • Internationalization of Worldline e.g.
    - Expanding the service offering in Germany from merchant issuing and Belgium from acquiring
    - Rolling out in new geographies either directly or through partnerships.

The margin improvement will come from revenue growth, and Worldline implementing its TEAM program (consolidate datacenters, delivery centers creation and consolidation, application consolidation). The intent of TEAM is to maintain costs under control while revenues grow.

Worldline is structured into three global service lines:

  • Merchant services and terminals (H1 2013 revenues €178m; +3.7% organic growth, 18.3% adjusted operating margin)
  • Financial processing services and software licensing (€189m; +2.8%; 18.5%)
  • Mobility and etransaction services (€182m; +10£; 11.4%).

Its intent is to roll out each service line in all geographies. The company believes that with the integration of several SIS units and its past growth, it now has large enough service lines to grow organically while covering SG&A costs.

Geographical priorities are:

  • Latin America: where Wordline is present mostly in Chile and Argentina in Mobility and etransaction services
  • APAC: China and Hong-Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India: Financial processing services and software licensing
  • Europe: France, BeLux, Germany, U.K. and Spain.

In addition Atos is to provide an additional entry point to 25 other countries where Worldline is not present. The company is also looking at addressing larger clients, especially in the Financial processing business to 69 large accounts.

In detail, the action plans are:

  • Merchant services and terminals
    - Doubling indirect channel network
    - Expanding offering by introducing two new vertical offerings per year. Areas of focus include mobile payment and mobile commerce for e.g. movie theaters. The unit want to achieve 10% of revenues from mobile transactions in the next 2 years
    - Driving value-added services e.g. an instant survey on a payment terminal
  • Financial processing services and software licensing
    - Consolidating application platforms
    - Introducing two to three new offerings per year
    - Consolidating presence from Germany, France and Belgium into U.K., Austria, and then expanding to Latin America, Asia, Northern Europe and Eastern Europe (Poland)
  • Mobility and etransaction services:
    - Investing in mobility and big data offerings and around security and privacy
    - Introducing in each country a more segmented service approach
    - Focusing on connected living services e.g. rail: journey planing, payment and ticket fulfillment, within 2 years (and double revenues).

Worldline and Atos management expressed strong confidence in the future of Worldline, and highlighted its size now permits a service line approach to the geographies in which it operates, in a profitable manner. The carve-out of Worldline will also bring flexibility and timeliness for inorganic moves as well as for any partnerships. Acquisitions is a clear priority. Worldline's targeted growth over the next three years means revenue of ~€1.36 - €1.47bn in 2017. Given the scale of Atos, higher growth in Worldine will not have a major impact on the revenue growth of Atos overall.

Worldline currently comprises a set of country operations with very different businesses; there is a lot to do before Worldline is able to go to market with a broadly similar portfolio in its core geographies, let alone achieve its ambitions for global expansion.

Ultimately, the IPO is about giving financial power to Worldline. NETS, the second largest payment services in Europe is reported to be on sale for an amount ranging from €1bn-€2bn. NETS had 2012 revenues of ~€800m and a net profitability of ~€92m. This gives an idea of the market capitalization of Worldline.

Dominique Raviart and Rachael Stormonth

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