USA Interactive and LendingTree announced a merger yesterday in a transaction valued between $626 million and $734 million. It is a stock-for-stock transaction. LendingTree has more than 200 participant lenders and has facilitated nearly $48 billion in closed loans since 1996 including credit cards. The deal represents USA’s entry into financial services and real estate verticals. USA has an existing base of nearly 40 million unique monthly Internet users. Doug Lebda, Founder and CEO, and Tom Reddin, President and COO, will continue in their current positions, as will other key members of the senior management team. LendingTree says its senior management team will have a significant ongoing economic interest in the upside of LendingTree, after USA recovers its acquisition costs with a rate of return, which is designed to incent and retain LendingTree’s strong management team over the long term. USA Interactive’s brands include HSN, Home Shopping Europe, Ticketmaster, Match.com, Citysearch, Expedia, Hotels.com, and others.
With the 129th running of the Kentucky Derby just days away, Visa USA is saddling up for the 2003 Visa Triple Crown thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious series.
Fitch Ratings is maintaining its negative rating outlook on U.S. consumer finance companies in 2003, although the pace of negative rating actions is expected to slow, as rating outlooks are becoming more stable, according to a new report published this week by the rating agency titled ‘U.S. Consumer Finance: A Light at the End of the Rating Tunnel in 2003’.
Federal judge John Gleeson yesterday denied all of VISA and MasterCards summary judgement motions in the upcoming “Wal-Mart” debit card lawsuit. Gleeson also denied MasterCards recent motion for a separate trial. However, the federal judge did grant five of the merchants eight summary judgment motions. Jury selection is schedule to begin April 21st with a trial date of April 28th. Constantine & Partners, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said yesterday that 70% of the trial was decided in the merchants favor as a result of yesterday’s summary judgment motions. VISA said the plaintiffs still have the burden of proving harm to the debit marketplace and that competition in the debit marketplace is thriving and robust. MasterCard said it was disappointed at yesterday’s action but relieved that a jury will decide if there was any competitive harm committed by its “Honor All Cards” rule. The lawsuit, filed in October 1996, by Sears Roebuck, Safeway, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, The Limited, three trade associations the National Retail Federation, the International Mass Retail Association and the Food Marketing Institute and 13 other large and small retailers, charges VISA and MasterCard with violating U.S. antitrust law. The class action includes five million merchants. If successful, the retailer plaintiffs could receive damages between $12 billion and $15 billion, which would be tripled under antitrust law. (CF Library 1/10/03; 3/17/03)
LendingTree, Inc. announced it has received a notice of allowance from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office indicating that the USPTO intends to grant patent protection for claims in the Company’s patent continuation application.
The Central Park Conservancy and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation announced that Laura Bush and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have agreed to serve as honorary co-chairs of the 150th Anniversary of Central Park. The land on which Central Park is located was designated in a bill New York State Legislature passed in 1853.
Datacard Group announced it has completed the acquisition of assets from Gilles Leroux S.A., a French manufacturer of plastic card production, control and personalization systems and leading supplier of solutions to the Global System for Mobile Communication smart card market. Datacard was awarded the right to purchase the Gilles Leroux assets in June 2002.
MasterCard says Asia/Pacific is its fastest growing region in terms of merchant acceptance. MasterCard now has 16.5 million merchant locations in Asia/Pacific, a 54% increase over 2001. Globally, MasterCard acceptance is up nearly 27% to 30 million locations, according to The RAM Report ([www.ramreport.com]). Meanwhile, gross dollar volume in the Asia/Pacific region rose 10.6% last year, to nearly US$223.2 billion. In the fourth quarter, Asia/Pacific GDV was up 5.2% to US$57.4 billion. The number of cards issued in the region rose 11.0% to 112.5 million. MasterCard has 102.4 million card accounts in Asia/Pacific. By country, GDV was up 23% in Korea, up 15% in Australia, and up 10% in Japan. With over 188.5 million Maestro cards, Asia/Pacific was the second largest Maestro region at EOY 2002. The number of Maestro cards in the region rose 32.6% over year-end 2001.
WI-based Fiserv has combined the operations of Fiserv EFT and Consumer Network Services to become the second largest third-party processor of EFT transactions nationwide. The new Fiserv EFT/CNS unit will continue to operate two main offices in Oregon New Jersey. Grant Christenson, formerly President of Fiserv EFT, is CEO of the new unit, and Tony Catalfano, formerly Director of CNS, is President and COO. The new organization will have 4,000 clients (direct and indirect). The new unti will drive 17,500 ATMs, proces approximately 320 million transactions monthly.
MasterCard says Asia/Pacific is its fastest growing region in terms of
merchant acceptance. MasterCard now has 16.5 million merchant locations in
Asia/Pacific, a 54% increase over 2001. Globally, MasterCard acceptance is
up nearly 27% to 30 million locations. Meanwhile, gross dollar volume in
the Asia/Pacific region rose 10.6% last year, to nearly US$223.2 billion.
In the fourth quarter, Asia/Pacific GDV was up 5.2% to US$57.4 billion. The
number of cards issued in the region rose 11.0% to 112.5 million.
MasterCard has 102.4 million card accounts in Asia/Pacific. By country, GDV
was up 23% in Korea, up 15% in Australia, and up 10% in Japan. With over
188.5 million Maestro cards, Asia/Pacific was the second largest Maestro
region at EOY 2002. The number of Maestro cards in the region rose 32.6%
over year-end 2001. MasterCard is also an official sponsor of the 2002 FIFA
World Cup in Japan and Korea. More than 2,300 members leveraged the event,
and the number of World Cup-related affinity cards issued rose 25% compared
with the 1998 games in France.
MasterCard International reported that its gross dollar volume in 2002 for
Latin America rose 26% as the number of cards issued in the region
increased 11.6%. For MasterCard, the Latin America region is about the same
size as the Canadian market based on card volume. However, based on the
number of cards issued, Latin America is twice the size of Canada. During
4Q/02, MasterCard handled $8.9 billion in GDV for Latin America, which
included $5.6 billion in purchase volume, and $3.3 billion in cash advance
volume. At the end of 2002, the number of card accounts stood at 35.3
million representing 44.5 million cards-in-force.
By comparison the Canadian market produced $8.9 billion in 4Q/02 volume
from 18.5 million accounts.
MasterCard’s gross dollar volume for Europe increased more than 16% during the fourth quarter to $68.8 billion while GDV for all of 2002 rose almost 15.0% to US$242.6 billion. For 4Q/02 MasterCard processed 852 million purchase transactions and 177 million cash advance transactions, up 16% and 9% over 4Q/01, respectively. At the end of the year, MasterCard had 77.2 million accounts representing 87 million cardholders, according to The RAM Report ([www.ramreport.com]). Europe is the largest cardholder base for MasterCard’s PIN-based debit, “Maestro,” with 226.1 million cards. Merchant acceptance in the European region was flat during 2002 at 5.9 million merchants. MasterCard noted that a key milestone last year was the completion of the merger with Europay International to form a unified, shareholder-owned, global payments company. Europay is now MasterCard’s Europe region. In connection with the merger, MasterCard launched two “Centers of Excellence” in Waterloo, Belgium, one for debit and one for chip and mobile commerce.