Ingenico board member says sale could be revived

By Leila Abboud

PARIS (BestGrowthStock) – An Ingenico board member left the door open to a revived takeover bid for the French payment services company on Tuesday, saying a deal could be done whilst also protecting the interests of the company, its shareholders and the French state.

But in a statement issued after the market close on Tuesday, Ingenico said “there is no discussion with Ingenico related to its share capital” and that “no binding offer was submitted.”

Allan Green’s comments in an interview on BFM radio came two days after a bid from U.S. firm Danaher was scuppered by opposition from its top shareholder, state-backed defense group Safran.

Analysts have said Safran’s move was likely a result of French government pressure to prevent the company passing into foreign hands.

France’s industry minister Eric Besson said on Monday that the state considered Ingenico a “strategic” business.

Asked whether a takeover of Ingenico was now dead, Green told BFM: “I believe that the interest of the acquirer is real and is motivated by the desire to develop Ingenico more quickly.

“The fact that the bidder is American is important; we have always had trouble penetrating the U.S. market. When all the appropriate information is provided to the decision-makers, then there is the possibility of a friendly transaction that does not threaten the interests of France nor the workers at Ingenico.”

Separately, Besson told AFP on Tuesday that he had not “ruled out the possibility of an entry of investors into the capital of Ingenico” but the issue of sensitive technology passing into foreign hands remained.

Ingenico shares closed up about 5.51 percent on Tuesday to 27.48 euros per share, but still below Danaher’s offer price of 28 euros.

Green said Ingenico had initiated proceedings to sell the company last summer when it received a first offer from a private equity firm.

He said he had spoken at that point to Safran’s representative on the board about a possible sale and said Safran told him they were open to considering offers on those terms.

“At no time was I told that the nationality of the buyer would be an obstacle,” Green said.

He said a condition of any sale was that all shareholders, including Safan, sell the entirety of their shares.

“Safran participated from the beginning to the end of the process… The process was going along normally until this weekend, when things went wrong,” he said.

Green said he and other Ingenico executives had had no direct contact with the French government.

France has a track record of blocking foreign takeovers on the grounds of ‘economic patriotism’, a term coined under former President Jacques Chirac in the name of protecting domestic companies and jobs.

Last year, state-owned nuclear reactor maker Areva

rejected U.S. and Japanese bids for its transmission and distribution (T&D) unit in favor of a domestic consortium, after a politically charged bidding process.

(Additional reporting by dominique Vidalon in Paris)

(Editing by Sophie Walker and Jon Loades-Carter)

Ingenico board member says sale could be revived