Security First Technologies, moving to fortify its position atop the Internet banking software world, has agreed to a pair of acquisitions totaling $1.4 billion.
Buoyed by its strong market capitalization and by booming interest in on-line banking, the Atlanta-based company on Monday unveiled deals to acquire Edify Corp. and FICS Group for $345 million and $1.08 billion in stock, respectively.
In acquiring Santa Clara, Calif.-based Edify, Security First would swallow a close competitor and add to its leading share in the retail on- line banking software market. Brussels-based FICS would bring Security First an overseas presence and experience in corporate banking systems.
Together, the deals would make Security First-to operate under a new name, S1 Corp.-a one-stop shop for on-line banking systems. The company would count as customers 26 of the top 50 U.S. banks and 36 of the largest 100 banks worldwide.
"The deal cements Security First's leadership position for retail, commercial, and small-business banking, both in North America and in Europe," said Stephen C. Franco, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Inc. in Minneapolis.
Mr. Franco added that Security First is "significantly distancing itself from any potential competition."
An explosive rise in Security First's stock price has given the company the currency for these acquisitions. As recently as November, Security First stock was trading in the single digits. It is trading around $51, a price which reflects a recent 2-for-1 split. The rise leaves the company with a market value of $1.26 billion.
Edify is a familiar name to many U.S. financial institutions. It is one of the leading providers of software for on-line retail and small business banking, and has several high-profile customers, including Chase Manhattan Corp.
FICS, though less well-known in the United States, is well-respected abroad. A private company with revenues of $55 million last year, it operates offices in 10 countries. Its customer list is a Who's Who of European banking.
Under terms of the Edify acquisition, Security First will exchange 0.330969 of its shares for each Edify share. The deal will involve approximately 6.4 million Security First shares.
For the FICS deal, Security First will issue and hand over 20 million shares of common stock.
The deals are expected to close in the fourth quarter.
Security First's chief executive officer, James S. Mahan 3d, will become chief executive officer of S1 Corp.
Michel Akkermans, who founded FICS in 1989 and is its chief executive officer, will become president. His responsibilities will include product strategy, development, and marketing.
Jeffrey Crowe, Edify's president and CEO, will become vice chairman, responsible for corporate development.
Mr. Mahan said the deals are part of the maturing of the Internet banking market. S1 Corp. is the result of a group of established companies recognizing how they can benefit from joining forces.
Because of the complementary nature of the companies' offerings, S1 Corp. will be able to provide banks with software that lets them deliver services via the Internet, phones, and wireless communications devices. In addition, it will supply a full range of applications, including consumer banking, brokerage, insurance, small business and corporate banking, and regulatory reporting.
"Financial institutions need to build complete financial portals for their customers," said William Soward, vice president of business development at Edify. "We'll provide the people, the data centers, and the content for them to create a compelling experience."
In a separate deal, Intuit Inc. has strengthened its ties to Security First. The Mountain View, Calif.-based software company agreed to purchase 971,000 shares of Security First stock for $50 million. As part of the deal, Intuit will integrate its Internet tax and accounting software with Security First home banking systems.
In the wake of these announcements, Security First stock was . Edify shares , and Intuit's stock