Bank technology stocks rose smartly last week as the Federal Reserve Board's interest rate hikes buoyed the equities market, especially the share prices of financial services firms.
Most financial systems companies rose significantly for the week, emerging from a month of summer doldrums during which most of the technology stocks tracked by the American Banker traded in a narrow range.
Payment processor First Data Corp. announced Wednesday that it would acquire a significant part of Envoy Corp. in a stock deal valued at $156 million. Officials of Hackensack, N.J.-based First Data said it had agreed to buy the Envoy division that handles merchant processing and point of sale transaction services.
Nashville-based Envoy could get an additional $21 million in cash if certain performance objectives are met. Both parties said they hoped to complete the deal by early next year.
The news sent Envoy's stock leaping $2.875 for the week, closing Friday at $19.875 a share.
First Data followed with another announcement Thursday that they had reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission regarding another proposed acquisition, that of Western Union Financial Services Inc,, the operator of the country's largest consumer money transfer network.
First Data had previously bid $660 million for Western Union, a unit of the bankrupt New Valley Corp. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court will conduct an auction on Sept. 19 to determine the successful bidder for the subsidiary. Industry analysts are predicting the auction could raise the price for the unit beyond $1 billion.
The FTC had sought to block First Data's acquisition of the business, citing the fact that the company already owned the only other nationwide money transfer business and would become a monopoly.
As part of the settlement, if First Data becomes the successful bidder for Western Union, it would have to "divest either its own consumer money transfer business, or that of Western Union, to an entity that will keep it operational, thus replacing the lost competition,"the FTC said in a press release.
Nevertheless, First Data officials said that the agreement allowed them to divest only the sales and marketing function of either business, giving them the right to process transactions for both.
First Data's stock closed at $46.625 a share Friday, up $2.25 for the week.
Trust software developer National Computer Systems Inc. reported Thursday higher revenues and profits for the second fiscal quarter ended July 31.
Officials at the Minneapolis-based company said revenues for the three-month period reached $80.1 million, up from $75.7 million in the same quarter in 1993.
Second-quarter net income totalled $4.7 million, up slightly from $4.2 million in the same period last year.
National Computer chief executive Charles Oswald said in statement that cost reduction steps taken earlier this year were beginning to be reflected in the bottom line. "We are optimistic about our ability to show further progress in both revenue and earnings as the year continues," he said.
At least one Wall Street firm shared his view: A Smith Barney analyst raised the firm's stock from "neutral" to "outperform," market sources said.
National Computer closed at $13 a share Friday, up $1.25 for the week.