The companies behind the Faster Payments initiative, Voca and LINK were today given formal approval by the Office of Fair Trading to merge.
The new merged group will be known as VocaLINK.
The combined group will form one of the leading payments processors in Europe, with a forecast volume of over 8 billion transactions this year. The merger will enable VocaLINK to compete more effectively on a pan-European scale in readiness for the advent of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) in 2008.
The two companies both have strong, established heritages. Since its inception in 1968, Voca has processed more than 60 billion transactions and is recognised as the largest processor of direct debits and credit transfers in Europe. LINK has operated one of the busiest and most efficient ATM networks in the world for over 20 years. It connects 130 million card accounts and 63,000 ATMs, and last year processed and settled over 2.9 billion transactions.
The new group will offer a broad range of services for both cash machines and automated payments, providing extensive reach across Europe for SEPA transactions. VocaLINK will also deliver real-time solutions such as the Faster Payments initiative in the UK and use its increasing network of partners to offer enhanced online and mobile services that will give customers and consumers greater choice and flexibility.
The current Voca Chief Executive, Marion King, will be VocaLINK's new Chief Executive. Commenting on this opportunity she said: "I am delighted the OFT have approved the merger and we can now progress with plans to bring the businesses together. Voca and LINK are already working closely on the UK's Faster Payments initiative and the operational and intellectual synergies between the two companies have always been clear. The unified company will offer an increased portfolio of innovative products and services to the payments industry."
Under the terms of the merger, which is still subject to Court approval, VocaLINK will be managed through a new board including independent non-executives. Peter Presland, LINK's current chairman, will assume the role of non-executive chairman and brings a wealth of experience in non-executive roles.