October 26, 2018 / 6:48 AM / 25 days ago

France's Edenred says it does not plan to buy stake in Ingenico

PARIS (Reuters) - French prepaid meal voucher and card provider company Edenred (EDEN.PA) said it did not plan to buy a stake in French payments group Ingenico (INGC.PA), potentially leaving the field open for bank Natixis (CNAT.PA) to snap up Ingenico.

“Following certain articles published in the press, Edenred would like to specify that it does not plan to carry out any transactions targeting Ingenico’s share capital,” Edenred said on Friday.

A source told Reuters earlier this month that both French bank Natixis (CNAT.PA) and Edenred had sent letters expressing interest in Ingenico this summer.

Ingenico, which has a market value of 4.2 billion euros (3.73 billion pounds) and has been a takeover target before, confirmed it had received “preliminary approaches for a strategic transaction”, without saying from whom.

The impacts of technological changes in payments and new consumers habits in payments such as the use of smartphones have triggered consolidation in the sector, despite increasing regulatory scrutiny, as deals would offer potential cost savings.

Worldline (WLN.PA) bought the payments unit of Swiss exchange operator SIX Group in May, and Nets merged with German peer Concardis in June. Ingenico tried unsuccessfully to buy Worldpay in 2015.

Meanwhile, private equity firm CVC abandoned talks with Ingenico, sources told Reuters in August, while U.S. company Danaher (DHR.N) also failed to buy it in 2010.

Earlier this week, Ingenico said it was reviewing its strategic options after lowering its earnings outlook for a second time this year.

The company cited weak performance at its arm which processes payments for banks and merchants for the lower outlook, saying it had been hit by adverse currency movements and a fall in earnings, particularly in Europe.

The weaker earnings outlook could make Ingenico less attractive for a potential bidder.

Backing from the French government is seen as key to the success of any bid for Ingenico, which France’s industry minister in 2010 described as essential to its electronics industry. French state bank BPI owns 5 percent of the company.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Inti Landauro; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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