Atos to Sell Worldline in IPO, Valuing It About $3 Billion

Atos, a French computer-services provider, will split off its Worldline unit in an initial public offering valuing the business at about $3 billion, seeking to capitalize on demand for electronic paying.

The IPO is set to raise about 610 million euros ($826 million) through a sale of about 255 million euros of new shares and 355 million euros of existing shares, Paris-based Atos said today. Atos will keep a stake of about 70 percent.

Atos is divesting the payments unit to focus on areas such as cloud computing, or technology that allows data to be accessed remotely via the Web. Last month, Atos offered to buy rival Bull for about 620 million euros, underscoring demand for cybersecurity and cloud-computing services.

The price in Worldline’s IPO will be 16.40 euros to 20 euros a share, valuing the company at 2.16 billion euros to 2.64 billion euros. The exact price is expected to be determined June 26, Atos said. The stock will trade in Paris.

Worldline will seek acquisitions in Europe and could use as much as 1 billion euros for deals, Chief Executive Officer Gilles Grapinet said today at a press conference in Paris. The company would help finance purchases through debt, and it could raise funds through a capital increase if needed, he said.

“We’ll seek acquisitions in segments like banking processes, where scale can generate big savings fast, and look for targets in services to retailers,” Grapinet said. “Overall, we’re more likely to make acquisitions in Europe.”

PayPal, Gemalto

Shares of Atos fell 0.3 percent to 63.83 euros at 11:29 a.m. in Paris, giving the company a market value of 6.4 billion euros.

Other operators in the fragmented market for electronic payments range from EBay Inc.’s online money-transfer and payments service PayPal to companies such as Gemalto NV, which sells software to make transactions more secure. Worldline directly competes with the likes of Nets, Vantiv Inc. and Global Payments Inc.

Worldline, whose customers include McDonald’s Corp., BNP Paribas SA and Bank of China Ltd., had profit of 118.5 million euros last year for sales of 1.1 billion euros, and generated free cash flow of 121 million euros. The company forecast it will improve profits and said its revenue will grow 3 to 4 percent this year and accelerate to a 5 to 7 percent yearly increase by 2017.

Atos said last year it would consider whether to seek an IPO for Worldline or sell a share of the division to investors.

Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are helping to arrange the IPO with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale SA. Rothschild & Cie is providing financial advice.

“The market is moving further from the idea of paying with a terminal and a card in a store,” Grapinet said. “Regulation is changing, the world’s going digital and electronic payment is gathering interest from new customers that aren’t just banks and retailers -- it’s the right time for us to IPO.”

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