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Fiserv to buy metro Atlanta’s First Data in $22B deal

Two of the nation’s biggest financial technology companies are combining in a $22 billion merger that could have major ramifications for metro Atlanta.

Wisconsin-based Fiserv announced Wednesday it will acquire Sandy Springs-based First Data in an all-stock transaction that will create a behemoth in the world of payments processing.

Fiserv and First Data aren’t household names for most consumers, but the two companies help make electronic payments possible, whether it be with the swipe of a debit or credit card or for purchases online. The companies serve banks and merchants across the globe.

“Through this transformative combination, we expect to redefine the manner in which people and institutions move money and information,” Jeffery Yabuki, Fiserv president and CEO, said in a news release announcing the deal.

Yabuki will remain the combined company’s chairman and CEO and First Data Chairman and CEO Frank Bisignano will be Fiserv’s president and chief operating officer upon the completion of the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of this year, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

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Payments are a critical and often overlooked part of the global economy. Georgia is the payments capital of the U.S., processing some 70 percent of all debit, credit and gift card transaction in the nation each year, according to the American Transaction Processors Coalition.

First Data is based in a tower along Ga. 400 in Sandy Springs and Fiserv has significant operations in Alpharetta.

The impact of the deal on metro Atlanta isn’t clear, but cost “synergies” — often meaning job reductions — are among the motivating factors of this transaction.

In the news release, the companies said they expect the merger to create about $900 million in “cost synergy savings over five years, driven primarily by the elimination of duplicative corporate structures, streamlined technology infrastructure, increased operational efficiencies, process improvements, and footprint optimization.”

Those cost savings, the release said, would be “achieved across the combined organization.”

Roger Tutterow, a Kennesaw State University economist, said mergers often lead to job cuts and other operational changes, but he said metro Atlanta’s status as financial technology, or FinTech, hub will hopefully blunt any impact from this corporate marriage. 

“I wouldn’t panic,” Tutterow said. “I think Atlanta’s status as a hub for FinTech clearly lowers the risk of a massive scale back here in Atlanta. …There may be more management overlap than there is in products.”

The $22 billion price for First Data amounts to about a 30 percent premium to the company’s recent share price over the past five days, the release said.

Return to AJC.com for more as this story develops.

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