First Data names interim CEO, posts wider loss on interest expenses

First Data Corp. has named Ed Labry, head of the credit card payments processor’s North American business, as interim chief executive officer, the company announced Tuesday.

The announcement came as the Sandy Springs-based company posted a wider fourth-quarter loss - partly because of interest expenses - but also higher revenue.

First Data, owned by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., is the world’s largest processor of credit and debit card transactions. It employs about 24,000 people, including 1,200 locally and 200 in Columbus.

CEO Jon Judge announced earlier this month that he was retiring for health reasons. He has been the company’s top officer since late 2010.

The company said Labry has spent almost 30 years of his career in the payments industry, most of that time at Concord EFS, a First Data subsidiary. He has headed First Data’s North American business, which accounts for 85 percent of revenue, since 2011. Labry is also a former president of First Data’s retail and alliance services operation.

“Asking him to serve in this capacity makes perfect sense for continuity and stability,” Judge said in a statement Tuesday. “Ed’s experience and knowledge of the company will maintain its position in a dynamic electronic payments industry.”

The search continues for a permanent CEO.

First Data said fourth-quarter results were hurt partly by an increase in interest expense and drop in income, but also said despite the “challenging economic environment” it saw an increase in revenue.

Net loss for the quarter was $179 million, compared with a loss of $69 million a year earlier. For the year the net loss was $701 million, compared with $516 million in 2011. Adjusted revenue was $1.8 billion, up 1 percent from the a year earlier. Revenue was $6.76 billion for the year, compared with $6.6 billion for 2011.

Judge said the company continues to invest in new products, including point-of-sale systems that rely on computer tablets. “As the payments industry continues to evolve through the convergence of offline, online and mobile payments First Data intends to help lead the way in universal commerce,” Judge said.

First Data recently signed a deal with Go, which will use First Data’s technology to provide online payments processing services to small businesses. Go Daddy is an Internet domain registrar and web hosting company.

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