Oberthur bids for Swedish smartcard outfit XPonCard

Oberthur bids for Swedish smartcard outfit XPonCard

French smartcard vendor Oberthur Technologies has made a SKr704 million (EUR76 million) cash bid for Swedish rival XPonCard.

In a statement Oberthur says the SKr157 per share offer represents a premium of 34% on XPonCard's closing price on OMX Nordic Exchange Stockholm yesterday.

Oberthur says XPonCard's board of directors have "unanimously recommended the offer to shareholders". In addition the French vendor has received "irrevocable undertakings" to accept the offer from shareholders representing about 50.7% of XponCard stock. The acceptance period is expected to run from 12 March to 4 April, says Oberthur.

Stockholm-based XPonCard provides smart cards for secure payments and identification and employs 420 staff in 16 countries. XPonCard had turnover of more than EUR120 million in 2007, according to its Web site.

Oberthur says its merger with XPonCard would create the world's second largest smart card vendor behind Gemalto, with sales of approximately EUR735 million.

Gemalto was formed by the merger of French smart card vendors Axalto and Gemplus in 2006.

Jean-Pierre Savare, chairman, Oberthur, says the acquisition will also extend the French firm's geographical reach: "XPonCard provides a perfect geographical fit in the Nordic and Baltic countries for Oberthur and we are impressed with XPonCard's successful development of value added services."

Oberthur says it intends to "retain a significant part of XPonCard's employees as part of the enlarged group going forward". But the firm also warns that it "is continuously seeking to optimise its cost base".

The acquisition is conditional upon Oberthur owning more than 80% of XPonCard's shares, no other bid emerging and it receiving external financing for the deal.

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