FIS walks back Worldpay merger with spinoff plan, stock tumbles

Financial-technology company Fidelity National Information Services Inc. is planning to spin off its merchant business, the company said Monday.

which announced a “comprehensive assessment” of its business under its new management team in December, said it intends to maintain a commercial relationship with the Worldpay merchant business that it is spinning off. The move essentially reverses the Worldpay merger that FIS announced in early 2019.

FIS and peers Global Payments Inc.
and Fiserv Inc.
have been known as the “deal stocks” within the payments universe, as all three announced big mergers in the first half of 2019. FIS’s stock has been the weakest performer of the bunch since the time of the company’s $43 billion Worldpay acquisition announcement — a deal one analyst recently called “underwhelming.”

The spinoff of Worldpay is expected to be conducted in a tax-free manner and completed within 12 months, according to Monday’s release. FIS shareholders will receive a pro-rata distribution of shares in Worldpay, though the company has yet to determine the actual number of shares that will be distributed.

“In evaluating a broad range of alternatives as part of our previously announced comprehensive assessment of FIS’ strategy, businesses, operations, and structure, FIS management and the Board concluded that the spin-off of Worldpay will unlock shareholder value by improving both companies’ performance, enhancing client services, and simplifying operational management,” Chairman Jeffrey Goldstein said in the release.

Chief Executive Stephanie Ferris added that the move “will enable FIS to target a strong investment-grade credit rating, while allowing Worldpay to invest more aggressively for growth.”

Shares were off 13.9% in midday trading Monday and on track to log their fourth largest single-day percentage decline on record.

SVB MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa…


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