Natixis Drops Bid for Ingenico, Opting for Dividend Instead

(Bloomberg) -- Natixis SA declined to bid for French payments processor Ingenico Group SA after holding preliminary talks with the company, and is promising to use its excess cash to grant a special dividend. Ingenico shares dropped.

The French bank will keep looking at potential acquisitions, primarily in asset and wealth management, it said after the market closed Thursday. For now, the “base case” is to pay a special dividend of about 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), Natixis Chief Executive Officer Francois Riahi said, while reiterating he wants to become a European leader in payments.

“We look at all the possibilities that allow us to reach our ambition. We don’t have any taboos, but we don’t have any preferred solutions,” Riahi told analysts on a call Friday. To grow its payments business, Natixis may consider acquisitions or “a potential asset combination.”

Ingenico is one of the few large payment processing firms to remain independent in a rapidly consolidating industry in Europe. The company is undergoing one of its biggest management shakeups of recent times with the removal of Philippe Lazare, its CEO and chairman, a move that some had speculated would facilitate a deal.

Ingenico had risen during weeks of speculation that Natixis would use cash from a planned asset sale to its parent, Groupe BPCE, to bid for the company. The stock fell 3.1 percent in Paris trading by 12:07 p.m. Natixis was little changed.

Natixis also published results that are one of the first tests for Riahi, who took over in June. Its asset management unit saw 5 billion euros of net inflows in the third quarter. That’s about half the level in the previous quarter and marks eight straight quarters of inflows.

The results are sound, said Maxence le Gouvello, an analyst at Jefferies International in London. Costs are “well controlled” and the investment bank was resilient, he wrote in a note.

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