Synovus Financial Corp., which owns the giant card processor Total System Services Inc., has agreed to acquire ProCard Inc., a specialist in commercial card systems, the companies announced Monday.
Total System is the dominant processor of commercial cards. ProCard, which is run by credit card industry veteran D. Dale Browning, sells management software and Internet tools for purchasing, travel, and fleet card programs.
Executives from both companies said the integration of ProCard's software with Total System's processing capabilities would advance the use of commercial cards and encourage business-to-business commerce on the Internet.
Neither side would name the deal price. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter and is subject to approval by regulators and ProCard stockholders.
ProCard would continue to operate in Golden, Colo., as a subsidiary of Synovus, of Columbus, Ga. Mr. Browning, who once won a distinguished-service award from the American Bankers Association for his early credit card work and the organization of the Plus automated teller machine network, would stay on as president and chief executive officer at least until the merger is completed, he said.
ProCard licenses its Internet-based reporting and reconciliation tools to about 20 banks, including Bank One Corp., Chase Manhattan Corp., and First Union Corp. About 1,300 corporations use the products.
Total System processes 86% of domestic Visa and MasterCard commercial cards, working with 1.5 million corporations and 49 banks. It is also a prominent consumer and third-party retail credit card processor.
"One of the primary drivers now in commercial cards is pushing all of the reporting and statements out into the Internet world so that the end-user corporations can pull up all their information [in] real-time," said Stanley Pipes, senior vice president of commercial services at Total System. The ProCard acquisition would put Total System "squarely in the Internet arena on the reporting side," he said.
Through its SureService system, Total offers customers of its bank clients the ability to access transaction data on-line in real-time. After merging with ProCard, Total would be able to turn raw data into "intelligent data," Mr. Pipes said. For example, transaction data could be aggregated so that a corporation negotiating a price deal with an airline could determine how many employees flew from Dallas to New York in a given month.
In addition, Total would be able to give companies more details about exactly what they purchased - not just when, where, and for how much.
"Now [corporations] can get software solutions from the same company that's also providing access to the live transaction data," Mr. Browning said. "The sooner you get transaction data to the corporate client, the more valuable it is."
In a separate announcement Monday, Total System said it has launched a redesign of its corporate Web site, which it says gets about 9,000 hits a day. The site now includes more information in the investor relations section, which the company said is a popular area.