The story of Worldpay is not a straightforward one, given that it contains a string of big-money mergers and acquisitions, involving businesses of various types with differing areas of expertise.
What we do know for certain is that Worldpay has officially become an independent company, having been spun out of financial services giant FIS.
While FIS is retaining a 45% ownership interest, the organisation will now be overseen by a new majority owner in the form of GTCR, a leading, Chicago-based private equity firm.
Charles Drucker resumes his former role as CEO and has already set to work on optimising performance and accelerating growth.
“I couldn’t be more excited to help lead the next chapter of Worldpay’s growth story as an independent company,” Drucker commented. “We will be faster and nimbler while bringing even more value to our clients and partners.
“The Worldpay team is passionate about payments and their clients, and together we will forge the future of this evolving industry. I’m also pleased to continue a strong partnership with FIS to preserve the end-to-end value proposition that has already benefitted so many of our clients.”
The rise of a payments giant
In tracing the somewhat convoluted history of Worldpay, one must look to both sides of the Atlantic.
Back in 1971, American finserv player Fifth Third Bank boldly formed Midwest Payment Systems (MPS), a provider of electronic funds transfer (EFT) services to financial institutions.
Fast forward more than 30 years, the still-growing MPS became Fifth Third Processing Solutions and continued to expand its services. In 2009, the business was spun off from parent company Fifth Third Bancorp and launched as a joint venture between Advent International and Fifth Third Bank.
A significant moment came about in the subsequent decade when Fifth Third Processing Solutions assumed the new name, Vantiv, and went public on the New York Stock Exchange.
Over the ensuing years, the organisation’s influence and reach was clear for all to see. Vantiv supported hundreds of thousands of merchants and more than 17,000 ATMs across almost all US states and several countries, while completing a series of acquisitions including the billion-dollar-plus capture Mercury Payment Systems in 2014.
Meanwhile, over in the UK, Worldpay in its original form was a successful payment processing system founded as Streamline in 1989.
After being absorbed by NatWest, and then by new owner Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in the early 2000s, Worldpay underwent a significant expansion over the ensuing years, culminating in divestment from RBS and the sale of the business to Advent International and Bain Capital in 2010.
Linear paths eventually intersected in 2017 when Vantiv acquired Worldpay in a deal totalling around US$10.4 billion, adopting the name Worldpay Inc in the process.
Less than two years later, FIS purchased Worldpay for an eye-watering US$43bn—widely reported to be the biggest-ever deal in the international payments space.
Worldpay: An industry leader
The Worldpay of today is an industry-leading payments technology and solutions company with unique capabilities to power omni-commerce across the globe.
Its processing solutions allow firms of all shapes and sizes to take, make and manage payments in-person and online from anywhere in the world, helping customers to be more efficient, secure and successful.
Every year, Worldpay processes more than 40 billion transactions across almost 150 countries and 135 currencies, worth in excess of US$2.2 trillion.
As the organisation becomes independent, Cincinnati is set to serve as its global corporate headquarters, while London will be its international headquarters.
What now for Worldpay?
As an independent entity, Worldpay says it is committed to bringing greater levels of value, innovation and service to clients through increased investment in product development, technology and client solutions.
The company also plans to pursue strategic acquisitions across verticals and geographies to further enhance its ability to serve clients and expand market opportunities.
GTCR has committed an additional equity capital investment of up to US$1.3 billion to pursue such opportunities.
“Worldpay is a global leader in the payments sector with a strong history of innovation and product delivery,” added Collin Roche, Co-CEO and Managing Director at GTCR, after the sale was closed. “Today marks an important milestone, beginning the next phase of the company’s growth and innovation.
“As we approached this date, it has been clear that Worldpay’s exceptional team of payment and technology professionals is energised by the company’s return to independent operations under the leadership of Charles. With its rich legacy, advanced technology and unique delivery-oriented culture, we are confident Worldpay will once again set the standard for this industry.”
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