Raising $2.56B In IPO, First Data Opens Only 2.4% Up At $16.39, Closes Below IPO Price At $15.83

After payments processor First Data priced its initial public offering at $16 per share last night, below the expected range of $18-$20, all eyes were on the company to see how the year’s biggest IPO — raising $2.56 billion — would perform in its debut. Ultimately, there were no fireworks. Trading under the FDC ticker on the New York Stock Exchange, First Data’s stock opened this morning at $16.39, up 2.43% and coming in not with a bang, but a whimper.

And at the time of writing, FDC’s is not looking great. Today the stock closed below its IPO price, at 15.83 per share.

The $2.6 billion in net proceeds that First Data picked up from its IPO is the biggest of the year. The company’s valuation of $14 billion, however, is well below the $29 billion that KKR paid in 2007 when it bought out First Data and took the company private after its first outing in the public markets.

While First Data did not give a reason for its IPO pricing decision, some believe it was because of the iffy market for IPOs right now. Others cite the fact that the company is carrying a lot of debt, currently to the tune of $21.16 billion, with a lot of that attributable to that buyout in 2007. The IPO proceeds will be used to pay some of that down.

First Data is unprofitable, in part because of the interest it’s paying on that debt. In the first half of 2015, the company reported a net loss of $138 million.

There are also some external factors that may also impact how well First Data may do. For starters, Square also filed for an IPO just last night.

Square may be working with gross margins of just 29 percent and also has a net loss, in its case, $78 million for the first half of this year. But it’s smaller and more nimble and in these heady days of tech, size may prove to be less of success factor than innovation and simply being able to move faster than financial giants to respond to changing market conditions. Or so some thinking goes, at least.

And First Data, indeed, is something of a payments giant. The company posted revenues of $5.56 billion for the first half of the year; is present in some 6 million businesses and 4,000 financial institutions across 118 countries. Its 23,000 “owner-associates” process over 2,300 transactions per second and $1.9 trillion annually, the company says.

And while it’s huge, First Data has been trying to “make up” for that size by buying many smaller and more nimble startups to try to match the Squares of the world. Most recently, the company bought Spree Commerce as a move into open source payments technology.

First Data’s IPO was run by Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and KKR.

Below is an interview from the NYSE floor with Katie and First Data’s President, Guy Chiarello.

Image: Brent Herron