Wednesday , December 12, 2018

Ingenico Sacks Its CEO As It Considers ‘Strategic Options’

Point-of-sale terminal maker and payment processor Ingenico Group on Monday announced an executive shakeup that saw long-time chairman and chief executive Philippe Lazare replaced by the former CEO of Visa Europe.

Lazare’s replacement and other boardroom changes come shortly after the Paris-based company said it was exploring “strategic options” in the wake of a possible buyout offer and reported uneven financial results in the past quarter that saw declining revenues from North America.

The shakeup, which Ingenico in October hinted was coming, is yet another sign that the traditional POS terminal market is undergoing a transformation. Ingenico’s archrival, San Jose, Calif.-based Verifone Systems Inc., went private in August. Both companies are trying to adjust to a market that is seeing a proliferation of mobile-oriented payment hardware and software options for merchants as well as cloud-based processing services from new rivals.

“Across payment segments, whether it be POS or e-comm, legacy providers are being challenged to keep up, primarily from their own weaknesses in technology,” Jared Drieling, senior director of business intelligence at Omaha, Neb.-based merchant-acquiring consulting firm The Strawhecker Group, tells Digital Transactions News by email. “So, in essence, whether it be Verifone, Ingenico, First Data, or any other legacy provider in the market, there is a huge push to adapt to this new environment with cloud-based functions and connected devices.”

Ingenico was vague about why Lazare, who became a director in 2005, CEO in 2007, and then chairman in 2010, is leaving. “On board of directors request, Philippe Lazare has stepped down from his chairman and chief executive officer mandates to enable a smooth management transition in the interests of Ingenico Group,” the company said in a news release. A spokesperson did not reply to a Digital Transactions News request for comment.

A new Ingenico POS system in place in a coffee shop. (Image credit: Ingenico Group)

The release praised Lazare, noting that Ingenico’s annual revenues grew over the past decade from €500 million to more than €2.7 billion (approximately $3.1 billion), with more than half of that coming from transaction processing. Lazare made a number of acquisitions, including Stockholm-based international processor Bambora Group for about $1.73 billion.

Drieling calls the change “interesting,” saying “Ingenico has been more ingrained into the processing ecosystem versus Verifone, especially on the international front.”

The new CEO is Nicolas Huss, who joined Ingenico as an executive vice president in July 2017 and became chief operating officer this July. Huss was CEO of Visa Europe, now part of Visa Inc., from 2013 to 2017, and previously worked for Avantcard, Bank of America, and GE Capital.

Ingenico also separated the chairman and CEO roles, with Bernard Bourigeaud, the founder of French technology firm Atos and an Ingenico director since 2016, now heading the board.

October reports on the financial wires indicated Ingenico, which says it has 30 million terminals deployed in 170 countries, has talked with French investment bank Natixis SA about a possible buyout, but nothing has been announced.

Shortly afterward, Ingenico reported third-quarter results that saw revenues rise 15% year-over-year, including organic growth of 8%, to €687 ($785 million). But growth was uneven, with sales to banks and merchant acquirers in Ingenico’s Europe-Middle East-Africa stronghold falling 18%, and slipping 7% in North America.

The earnings release mentioned the board had appointed a committee of independent directors to review “the strategic options for the company and the evolution of its governance.” Yesterday’s announcement was headlined “Governance evolution.”

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