France’s Ingenico gets $1.9 billion takeover offer

By Lionel Laurent and Marie Mawad

PARIS (BestGrowthStock) – French payment services provider Ingenico (INGC.PA: ) said on Friday it was in talks with an unnamed party after receiving a 1.44 billion euro ($1.92 billion) takeover offer as dealmaking heats up in the sector.

Ingenico, whose shares were suspended from trading pending the announcement, will give a further update before normal trading resumes on December 20, it said in a statement.

The non-binding all-cash offer, received on December 14, was priced at 28 euros per Ingenico share, it said, or 9.6 percent higher than the closing price on December 13. The stock last closed on Thursday at 27.59 euros.

Although the bidder was not named in the statement, Ingenico — which is 22.5 percent-owned by aerospace equipment maker Safran (SAF.PA: ) — has been a target of takeover speculation, with traders citing Britain’s Sage Group (SGE.L: ) and auction site eBay (EBAY.O: ) as possible bidders.

One trader also cited U.S. group Danaher (DHR.N: ), a $30 billion company based in Washington D.C. that sells medical, industrial and consumer products.

Safran was unavailable for comment on Friday. Sage declined to comment ahead. Danaher, named by traders as a possible buyer, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Big-name technology firms are seen competing to acquire niche software groups in 2011 as part of a growth plan they hope will cater to recession-hit clients clamoring for a wider range of services.

EXPANSION

Ingenico has about 30 percent of the global payments market and competes with VeriFone (PAY.N: ) and Hypercom (HYC.N: ). It makes the hardware that processes credit card purchases in stores and is expanding into other transaction services.

This will expand its addressable market from 2.5 to 10 billion euros, according to the company. Another area of expansion is the adoption of mobile payments via smartphones.

Analysts consider Ingenico a growth stock, and a report by Berenberg Bank predicted it could hit 13 percent compound annual growth rates through 2013 as it expands.

Asked by Reuters whether the price of 28 euros was too low, several analysts said they would wait for the identity and strategy of the potential acquirer before judging.

“It won’t just be a question of price,” said one Paris-based analyst, adding the Ingenico management team was well respected by markets and their departure wouldn’t be seen favorably.

Consolidation hit the sector when VeriFone Systems Inc (PAY.N: ) agreed to buy smaller rival Hypercom Corp (HYC.N: ), which had been a target for Ingenico in 2008.

Shares of Ingenico have gained 71 percent this year versus a flat CAC-40 blue-chip stock index in Paris.

The group reported a 31.6 percent rise in third-quarter revenue, to 231.8 million euros, driven by strong growth in Asia-Pacific economies such as China and Australia.

($1=.7513 Euro)

(Additional reporting by Leila Abboud, Blaise Robinson; Editing by Erica Billingham and David Hulmes)

France’s Ingenico gets $1.9 billion takeover offer