France's Credit Agricole has signed an agreement to "explore the possibility" of merging its card and payment processing operations with Equens.
Between them, Equens and Credit Agricole's payments and transaction subsidiary, Cedicam, have a processing volume of over 15 billion transactions. The two say that by combining volumes and developing synergies they can become a major player in the European market and lower unit processing costs.
Jean-Yves Hocher, deputy CEO, Credit Agricole, says: "We are facing major challenges within the rapidly changing European landscape. By discussing a partnership with Equens to become the pan-European card and payment processor, we will be able to combine expertise, technology, in-depth knowledge and the processing of several billion transactions to serve our network."
Michael Steinbach, chairman of Equens' board, adds: "The intended cooperation with Cedicam is a major next step forward in our strategy to become the premier pan-European processor. It will enable us to further increase our scale, geographical presence and product offering for the benefit of our current and future clients and shareholders, like ABN AMRO, DZ Bank, ICBPI, ING and Rabobank."
Negotiations are slated to conclude next year, with a final agreement subject to consultation with employee representation groups and regulatory approval.