Fiserv Inc. announced yesterday that it has acquired a corporate cash management processing business from Chemical Banking Corp., in its second deal with a New York money-center bank in two weeks.
The outsourcing and software company paid an undisclosed sum for Chemical's BankLink Inc. subsidiary, which provides an array of cash management software products and processing services to over 120 financial institutions. These banks resell BankLink's products to their own corporate customers.
The deal follows a $480 million, 12-year outsourcing contract Fiserv concluded with Chase Manhattan bank on Feb. 22, when the bank handed over operation of its four check processing centers in New York State.
"With the addition of the BankLink products and professionals to Fiserv, we gain the ability to expand and enhance our services to major financial institutions," said George D. Dalton, chairman and chief executive of Fiserv. He added BankLink is profitable and the acquisition would be nondilutive to Fiserv.
Over three-quarters of BankLink's customers - including such notables as Banc One Corp. and Mellon Bank Corp. - rank among the top 200 banks in the United States, Mr. Dalton said.
BankLink employs about 70 people and had about $25 million in revenues in 1994, according to Richard J. Matteis, an executive vice president and head of Chemical's Geoserve fee-based processing subsidiary.
"It was more of a niche business for us," Mr. Matteis said, noting Geoserve - which provides cash management and securities processing services to Chemical's clients - had over $700 million in revenues in 1994. "Even though BankLink is very well regarded in the marketplace, it wasn't strategic to Geoserve. It fits Fiserv's profile better than it fits Chemical's profile."
The BankLink unit was formed by $171 billion-asset Chemical in 1977, and was part of the bank's plan to boost fee income through technology-based businesses.
The ongoing consolidation in banking, along with the cost of developing new information technologies to support corporate cash managers, probably contributed to Chemical's decision to exit the service bureau business, observers said.
"The BankLink business is still profitable, but it probably has peaked out," said one industry insider who asked not to be named.
In addition, banks' profits from cash management services have shrunk in recent years, mainly due to the lower interest rate environment that has lessened corporations' need for technological tools to maximize their cash flow.
"Things are little healthier for cash management now that interests rate have risen, but the earnings growth rate is still low," said Larry Forman, a cash management consultant with Ernst & Young in New York. "A move such as this reflects Chemical's strategy of focusing more on its core banking businesses."
All of BankLink's employees will retain their jobs as part of the deal, Fiserv officials said.
"Fiserv has a long history of developing and delivering innovative technology solutions to financial institutions," said Rick Hutchinson, president of BankLink. "Joining Fiserv will enable us to leverage the company's superior technology resources."
Mr. Hutchinson added that Fiserv and BankLink plan to introduce later this month a cash management software package that uses Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system. The software allows corporate treasurers to view account balances and initiate funds transfers from their personal computers.
Mr. Matteis said the line of cash management products and services Chemical sells directly to corporations, known as ChemLink, will be unaffected by the sale of BankLink.
"ChemLink is one my core products," he said. "There was a very conscious effort to keep them separate (in terms of product development), because in the corporate marketplace, we were literally competing" with institutions offering BankLink's products.