Fiserv is buying First Data in a $22B fintech megadeal

While we will continue to see a lot of consolidation among smaller startups in the area of financial technology, or fintech, there are also some much bigger combinations at play to help tap into economies of scale against current and future competition. Today, Fiserv announced that it would acquire First Data — respectively giants in financial services and e-commerce payments — in a deal worth $22 billion.

It is a merger, but Fiserv will be getting the upper hand in the deal: its CEO Jeffery Yabuki will become CEO of the combined entity, while First Data’s CEO Frank Bisignano will become president and COO.

This will be an all-stock transaction. Specifically, First Data shareholders will get a fixed exchange ratio of 0.303 Fiserv shares for each share of First Data common stock, “for an equity value of $22 billion.” Fiserv said the price it’s paying is a premium of 29 percent to the five-day volume weighted average price as of yesterday’s closing. After the close of the deal, Fiserv shareholders will own 57.5 percent of the combined company, while First Data shareholders will own 42.5 percent.

The merger underscores the general trend of consolidating different parts of the financial services ecosystem, providing a one-stop-shop to clients, and building more integrated services overall.

Traditional banks and the services that they provide to users — from savings accounts to credit and loan services to remittance and money transfer services and payments — have been disrupted in the last 10-15 years with the emergence of a host of startups that are taking them on with faster, more agile solutions based on cloud architectures, apps, catchy marketing, AI and machine learning to improve responsiveness and overall user experience, as well as undercut some of the rates that banks provide.

Up and coming names include PayPal (which you might argue is no longer disruptive in this sense), Stripe, Square, TransferWise, Ant Financial (a frenemy of sorts) and more. Other tech companies like Amazon and Apple also are throwing their weight in terms of “owning” customers’ financial expenditures.

Fiserv, which is now 35 years old, has actually played a part in trying to help banks combat that bigger trend, for example it once built its own smartphone-based card reader to compete with Square’s that it intended to sell to banks to take on the smaller firm.

First Data, meanwhile, has been mainly swimming in its own lane, acting as a consolidator of interesting fintech startups like Clover, Perka, Gyft, Blue Pay, Spree and more. It went public in 2015 and says that its tech is active across 6 million physical businesses and 4,000 financial institutions in over 100 countries, and that it processes some 3,000 transactions per second and $2.4 trillion per year.

Now, they will be combining their respective work into more integrated offerings. As examples the companies give, it will merge First Data’s digital merchant account enrollment capabilities can be integrated into Fiserv’s digital banking solutions that serve thousands of financial institutions.

They said they will also be investing $500 million over the next five years on new tech in areas like merchant solutions, digital services, risk management, and payments.

“Through this transformative combination, we expect to redefine the manner in which people and institutions move money and information,” said Jeffery Yabuki, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fiserv in a statement. “We admire First Data for its excellence in merchant acquiring and global issuing services, and the tremendous progress they have made under Frank’s leadership. We expect this combination to catalyze and support an enhanced value proposition for our collective clients and their customers.”

“I have long admired what Fiserv has achieved over the years, and I look forward to working with the talented associates of both companies as we set a higher standard of innovation and service in the industry,” said First Data Chairman and CEO Frank Bisignano in a statement. “Our goal at First Data has always been to provide our clients with the most comprehensive suite of innovative, highly-differentiated solutions and services, and I am excited by the significant value that the combination with Fiserv creates for all stakeholders.”

While this is about creating products to better compete against the rest of the financial services field, it’s also about saving money at the two companies themselves. Fiserv and First Data say that they expect $900 million in run-rate cost savings and $500 million or more in revenue synergies.

The companies said they expect the deal to close in the second half of 2019.