LendingTree Acquired

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.

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CheckFree’s CTO Award

CheckFree’s CTO, Randy McCoy, has received the “Outstanding Technology Innovation Award” at the American Electronic Association’s inaugural Southeastern “Spirit of Endeavor” Awards Program last week. This award is presented to individuals who foster innovation in his or her industry, support the growth and success of their respective companies and the overall technology market, and serve as role models for other organizations.

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PRESSBYRAN & RETALIX

Stockholm-based Pressbyran has committed to roll out Retalix’s
“StorePoint HOST-to-POST” software solution in all its 320 sites throughout
the country. Retalix is partnering with Wincor Nixdorf Norway for the
contract. Pressbyran is part of the Reitan Handel Corporation,
headquartered in Oslo, Norway. Other Retalix customers in the convenience
store/Kiosk segment in Europe include Welcome Break in the UK, AVEC, Kiosk
AG and Fenaco chains in Switzerland, and the Narvesen kiosk chain in Norway.

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Wal-Mart Suit

VISA and MasterCard’s settlement in the Wal-Mart class action debit card lawsuit will be executed in early June and completed by September. However VISA and MasterCard still face debit card lawsuits from those opting out of the class action. Last week’s Wal-Mart settlement includes slightly more than $3 billion in refunds, a 35% reduction in interchange rates, and an untying of debit card acceptance from credit card acceptance. Separate lawsuits from Home Depot, Toys R Us, Meijer Stores and Giant Eagle have not been settled.

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Saks Cash

Saks credit cardholders are now limited to paying a maximum of $350 per month in cash towards their credit card account. The cash limit is the result of a cease-and-desist order issued by the OCC last month under the Bank Secrecy Act covering money-laundering. Saks’ former bank subsidiary, National Bank of the Great Lakes, was late in filing a few reports about cardholders making large cash payments on their credit-card accounts. Saks sold the assets of National Bank of the Great Lakes on April 15 to Household International of Prospect Heights, and no longer owns its stores’ private-label credit cards. Saks stores include Carsons, Younkers, Boston Store, Bergner’s and Herberger’s.

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LML PATENT

Vancouver-based LML Payment Systems has received notification from
the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that its patent application for the
electronification of checks has been approved. LML is a financial payment
processor providing check processing solutions including electronic check
authorization, electronic check conversion and primary and secondary check
collection including electronic check re-presentment to national, regional
and local retailers. The company also provides selective routing of debit,
credit and EBT transactions to third party processors and banks for
authorization and settlement.

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Top Ten Charge-Offs

Charge-offs among the top ten U.S. VISA/MasterCard issuers rose 91 basis points during the first quarter compared to one year ago. Charge-offs stood at 8.11% compared to 7.20% one year ago. The increase was driven by the huge increases in losses by sub-prime issuers. All but three issuers reported up-ticks in charge-offs. Citibank, Bank One, and Bank of America reported decreases in first quarter charge-offs, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

TOP TEN VISA/MC ISSUER CHARGE-OFFS
1Q/03 1Q/02 ANN CHNG
1. Citigroup: 6.04% 6.41% – 37 bps
2. MBNA: 5.04% 5.00% + 4 bps
3. Bank One: 5.29% 5.69% – 40 bps
4. Chase: 5.75% 5.82% + 19 bps
5. Cap One: 6.21% 4.70% + 179 bps
6. Providian: 17.34% 15.05% + 256 bps
7. BofA: 5.25% 5.43% – 18 bps
8. Fleet: 6.13% 5.42% +71 bps
9. Sears Natl: 6.11% 5.43% +68 bps
10. Metris: 17.90% 13.00% + 490 bps
AVERAGE: 8.11% 7.20% +91 bps

* does not include Household which is now part of HSBC

Source: CardData ([www.carddata.com][2])

[1]: http://www.carddata.com
[2]: http://www.carddata.com

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