Earnings Results: FIS walks back Worldpay merger, stock tumbles to one of its worst days on record

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Stock Market

Financial-technology company Fidelity National Information Services Inc. is planning to spin off its merchant business, the company said Monday. FIS
which announced a “comprehensive assessment” of its business under its new management team in December, said it intends to maintain a commercial relationship with the Worldpay merchant business that it is spinning off. The move essentially reverses the Worldpay merger that FIS announced in early 2019.

FIS and peers Global Payments Inc.
and Fiserv Inc.
have been known as the “deal stocks” within the payments universe, as all three announced big mergers in the first half of 2019. FIS’s stock has been the weakest performer of the bunch since the time of the company’s $43 billion Worldpay acquisition announcement — a deal one analyst recently called “underwhelming.”

The spinoff of Worldpay is expected to be conducted in a tax-free manner and completed within 12 months, according to Monday’s release. FIS shareholders will receive a pro-rata distribution of shares in Worldpay, though the company has yet to determine the actual number of shares that will be distributed. “In evaluating a broad range of alternatives as part of our previously announced comprehensive assessment of FIS’s strategy, businesses, operations, and structure, FIS management and the board concluded that the spin-off of Worldpay will unlock shareholder value by improving both companies’ performance, enhancing client services and simplifying operational management,” Chairman Jeffrey Goldstein said in the release. Chief Executive Stephanie Ferris added that the move “will enable FIS to target a strong investment-grade credit rating, while allowing Worldpay to invest more aggressively for growth.” Shares closed down 12.5% in Monday trading to log their fourth largest single-day percentage decline on record. SVB MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa Ellis wrote that she and others were hoping FIS might sell the merchant business if it indeed decided to part ways with it. “This outcome may still come to pass (once FIS more fully separates Worldpay), but the fact that it has not happened already suggests that an obvious, eager strategic buyer has not presented itself — another indicator that the business is likely deteriorating rapidly,” she wrote in a note to clients. The merchant business will operate under the Worldpay name, “reestablishing and strengthening a brand that remains highly trusted among clients and partners,” according to the release. Charles Drucker, who was formerly Worldpay’s CEO, will be a strategic advisor during the spinoff process and will return to the top post at Worldpay if the spinoff “is completed as expected.” Mizuho’s Dan Dolev dubbed the official announcement “bittersweet” and “bold.” “Plus, the return of quasi-Vantiv founder Drucker as CEO of [Worldpay] puts the business in great hands,” Dolev said in a Monday note to clients. “His task will be to revive the ailing SMB [small- and medium-sized business] book and accelerate e-commerce growth.” FIS also reported earnings Monday for its fourth quarter, noting that it took a $17.6 billion non-cash goodwill i …

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