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Atos Buys Syntel in $3.4 Billion U.S. Push for Amex, FedEx

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Atos Buys Syntel in $3.4 Billion U.S. Push for Amex, FedEx

  • French company gains large customers including financials
  • First-half earnings weak in North America; shares fall

Atos SE agreed to buy Syntel Inc. in a $3.4 billion cash deal to help it get better access to U.S. financial customers like American Express Co. and State Street Corp.

At $41 a share, the transaction is also a way for acquisitive French computer-services provider Atos to recover from a rebuffed bid 8 months ago for Gemalto NV, which secures digital payments for banks and other clients.

“We’ve just acquired a massive booster to our U.S. business and to our digital business,” Atos Finance Chief Elie Girard said in a call with reporters on Monday. As a French company reinforcing its presence in the U.S., “we’re absolutely not worried about trade — our industry is not on the radar as a target of trade wars,” he said.

The per-share figure is 4.8 percent more than Syntel’s closing price of $39.13 on July 20. The total price is $3.57 billion including Syntel debt, the companies said Sunday in a statement. Shares in Atos reversed earlier gains to fall 6.6 percent in Paris trading at 11:43 a.m.

Atos’s transaction mirrors that of its competitor Capgemini SE, only more than 3 years later, Anurag Rana, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, wrote in a note. In a similar move, Capgemini bought Igate Corp. for about $4 billion in 2015 to expand with U.S. customers and add staff in countries with cheaper labor.

U.S. Weakness

Atos on Monday reported earnings that showed revenue and operating profitability fell in North America in the first half, though total sales grew 1.7 percent to 6 billion euros and the margin improved overall. The company confirmed its full-year targets.

While the Syntel transaction may boost Atos’s performance in the U.S., there are questions about prospects for the company’s underlying performance in that region, Ameet Patel, an analyst at Northern Trust Capital Markets, wrote in a note.

Atos said it expects the deal to close by year-end, adding to earnings immediately and providing “double-digit accretion as early as 2019” excluding transaction costs and goodwill. The boards of both companies approved the transaction on July 20 and Syntel shareholders holding 51 percent of the stock, including founders, pledged to vote in favor, according to a statement.

“We see potential for synergies on sales as well as margins,” Girard said. The acquisition price is about 14.7 times Syntel’s earnings before interest and taxes over the past 12 months, before taking synergies into account, he said.

India Workforce

While Atos’s market capitalization of 13.2 billion euros ($15.4 billion) is almost five times that of Syntel, the American company’s shares have been growing faster. Syntel shares have doubled in the past year, while Atos was little changed before the deal announcement.

Syntel’s top three customers -- American Express, State Street Bank and FedEx Corp. -- accounted for 45 percent of its revenue last year, and only about 11 percent of sales came from outside of North America, according to an annual report. While the company gets most of its revenue from the U.S., the bulk of its 23,000-person workforce is in India.

Syntel’s net revenue has dropped for the past two years, including a 4.4 percent decline to $923.8 million in 2017. The company has global development centers in India, Scotland, Poland and the Philippines, with 76 percent of its billable workforce located in India, according to Syntel’s annual report.

The transaction will be financed with debt underwritten by BNP Paribas SA and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

(Additonal context throughout. An earlier version of this story was corrected to fix the date in the second paragraph.)