SIA-SSB posts full year results

Source: SIA-SSB

The ordinary general meeting of SIA-SSB shareholders, convened today with Carlo Tresoldi as Chairman, approved the Annual Report for the year ended at 31 December 2007.

The 2007 operating year was marked by the merger between SIA S.p.A. and SSB S.p.A. in May 2007 with retroactive accounting and fiscal effects at 1 January 2007, and by the acquisition of GBC, a Hungarian company working in payments systems and card processing.

Consolidated financial results

In order to make a meaningful comparison year-on-year, the 2006 financial and asset & liability figures of the SIA and SSB Groups have been aggregated on a uniform basis and reclassified in several items.

In specific terms, the Group - consisting of the parent company SIA-SSB, GBC, Kedrios, Perago, RA Computer, SiNSYS and TSP - closed year 2007 with an increase in revenues from sales and services giving a total of 384.9 million euros compared to 376.4 million in 2006.

Value of production also grew, reaching 403.4 million euros compared to 400.1 million in the previous financial year.

Gross operating margin amounted to 35 million euros compared to the 33 million of 2006.

Pre-tax profit for 2007, net of the re-organization costs deriving from the merger, was 16.8 million euros.

Distribution of dividends

In the year 2007, the parent company SIA-SSB achieved net income of 9 million euros. The shareholders' meeting resolved to distribute total dividends of 6 million euros, equal to 0.0353 euros per share.

Business trend

Over the course of 2007, SIA-SSB processed a total of 6.4 billion transactions, divided between 3.7 billion on credit/debit cards and 2.7 billion of payments and collections. SIA-SSB is among the leading companies in Europe, in terms of volumes of transactions handled, and currently operates in 27 countries.

The total number of cards managed is 60.5 million (+25% on 2006) - a figure that confirms the growing use of this payment instrument by consumers - with over one million merchants. The number of ATMs managed is 2,662 (+90%), while the number of POS terminals is 170,920 (+ 16%).

On fininancial markets, SIA-SSB managed 73 million deals and over 5 billion messages. More than 150 Italian and foreign brokers chose to use the fixed income trading platforms and over 60 domestic and international operators adopted the MiFID compliance and surveillance solutions.

The 592 network nodes (423 in Italy and 169 abroad) of SIAnet, the multi-service broadband network infrastructure, carried 10.3 terabytes (10.3 thousand billion bytes) of data, compared to the 8 terabytes in 2006 (+29%), guaranteeing infrastructure availability levels of 99.99%.

The 2007 financial year was significantly marked by the effects of the merger between SIA S.p.A. and SSB S.p.A., which led to the birth of a Group that is leader in the Italian market and among the major players in Europe in the sectors of card processing, payments systems and services, services/solutions for financial intermediaries, and network connectivity and messaging services.

In line with the strategic objectives set out at the time of the merger, over the course of the year SIA-SSB confirmed its commitment towards business development in the domestic and international markets. In both these cases, SIA-SSB was able to exploit its geographical presence in terms of commercial and operative support thanks to the Group's subsidiaries abroad.

In the payment cards sector, the market confirmed the trend of progressive internationalization with increasing demand from clients for management of an extended value chain and for cross-border services.

In particular, 2007 saw significant consolidation by the Group in the central-eastern Europe area. The acquisition of GIRO Bankkàrtya ZRt (GBC), a Hungarian company specializing in payments systems and card processing, finalized in 2007, allowed the Group to gain significant market share in one of the regions considered of strategic importance for international expansion.

2007 also saw the consolidation of processing services in Ukraine and the award of an important contract with a Russian Bank, with start up set for the first half of 2008. The international expansion is continuing, also thanks to the support of the subsidiary SiNSYS.

In the sector of payments systems,2007 was a year of intense collaboration between SIA-SSB and EBA Clearing, coinciding with the introduction of SEPA Credit Transfers (SCT) and developments regarding SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) collections.

Thanks to an agreement signed with EBA Clearing in June 2007, SIA-SSB is able to offer Italian banks processing services for SEPA payment instruments, using the same technology platform which is the basis for STEP2 - EBA Clearing's Pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH). This partnership guarantees banks the ability to reach all European counterparts, regardless of their location. Sharing the same technology platform (Shared Platform) facilitates the migration of Italian banks to SEPA while allowing them to maintain access to the two settlement systems (BI-COMP, managed by the Bank of Italy, and EURO1, managed by EBA Clearing), thereby reducing the cost and organizational impacts related to the duality period, during which the current domestic instruments will co-exist alongside the new SEPA instruments.

The Group thus confirms its position as a major player in the field of retail payments at European level, thanks to its role as operator of the STEP2 platform, the first, and still unique, EBA Clearing pan-European clearing house (PE-ACH), with over 1,700 subscribing banks in more than 27 countries, and as the clearing institute for Italian banks.

As far as projects for Central Banks are concerned, in 2007 the SIA-SSB Group continued its activities relating to the bids won in Sweden and Norway on the RTGS systems developed by the subsidiary Perago.

To these was added the award of the bid for tenders called by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for the design and creation of the new technology infrastructure for inter-bank payments in Egypt. This system will be able to manage, in real time, the flow of wholesale payments between the Central Bank of Egypt and the headquarters of the 40-plus banks located in this north African country.

For the capital markets sector, 2007 saw a period of consolidation in relations with the existing foreign clientele in the 15 countries where MTS was adopted and, at the same time, a period of study to identify potential markets for the issues of surveillance and compliance introduced by the EU MiFID directive.
In particular, the suite of Sia-Eagle products was bolstered in 2007 with new MiFID surveillance modules which have consolidated Sia-Eagle's positioning as a true Compliance and Fraud Detection platform.

As far as network servicesare concerned, in 2007 SIA-SSB launched a complete and integrated offering specifically aimed at meeting the SEPA-related requirements of the European banking industry. In addition, start-up was completed of the new Corporate Banking Interbancario (CBI) services on the new infrastructure managed by SIA-SSB on behalf of the CBI Association. This new CBI architecture, based on state-of-the-art technologies, allows subscribers to carry out peer-to-peer exchange of inter-bank traffic for Corporate Banking activities, adding to the existing services new functions typical of electronic commerce. The new architecture, which has attained international ISO certification, is set to become the base infrastructure for the creation of an international circuit for B2B cooperation.

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