VeriFone Systems Inc.'s move to buy the point of sale terminal business of the Dutch card maker Gemalto NV could be especially helpful in the event that its attempt to buy rival Hypercom Corp. fails.
VeriFone, of San Jose, Calif., is in exclusive talks to buy Gemalto's terminal business, which is based in France. The companies also have formed a strategic partnership that includes a deal to work together on chip card products and services. The news was announced Wednesday.
VeriFone's purchase of Gemalto's terminal business is "substantially finalized," but it is subject to French laws that require approval from a works council, which represents workers, a VeriFone spokesman said in an e-mail Thursday.
The deal could take 30 to 90 days, or longer, he said, depending on the alacrity of the works council.
Gemalto's terminal business would be a "consolation prize" if VeriFone fails in its attempt to buy Hypercom, said George Sutton, an analyst at Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC of Minneapolis. He estimates Gemalto shipped 470,000 POS terminals in 2009, mostly to Africa, the Middle East and France, and generated about $80 million in terminal revenue.
The Gemalto deal also may serve another purpose, Sutton said.
"It's more of a negotiation tactic on the part of VeriFone than anything else," he said. "It may accelerate the process of bringing VeriFone and Hypercom together."
Indeed, analyst Gil B. Luria of Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles said he sees potentially good news for VeriFone if the Gemalto deal is consummated.
"A possible acquisition of Gemalto's terminal business would represent a better deal for VeriFone as compared to Hypercom, as it would expand VeriFone's scale and reach with far less complexity," Luria wrote in a research note.
"However, we do not believe that this deal would necessarily replace a Hypercom bid," Luria wrote. "It would only make it less likely."
Hypercom, of Scottsdale, Ariz., last week rebuffed VeriFone's latest offer and asked for no further negotiations until after Nov. 2, when Hypercom releases its next quarterly earnings.
The Gemalto deal does not alter or eliminate the interest in buying Hypercom, VeriFone said.
And with no other apparent Hypercom bidders, VeriFone may be enticed to stick with its offer of $5.25 per share of Hypercom stock, Luria said. Lack of competition also may "drag out" VeriFone's quest for Hypercom, he said.
With Gemalto's business, VeriFone could speed the global adoption of the EMV Integrated Circuit Card Specifications.
VeriFone and Gemalto will "pool their expertise to facilitate the adoption of EMV worldwide, particularly in the United States," Paul Beverly, the president of Gemalto North America, said in an e-mail Thursday.
"Obviously the United States is virgin territory for EMV, but we do believe that adoption is inevitable, although it's unclear as to the form — contact, contactless or mobile — or the time line," the VeriFone spokesman said. "Elsewhere, EMV is moving ahead, although the pace of adoption varies from region to region and country to country."
Meantime, Gemalto will supply VeriFone with machine-to-machine wireless communication technology used to remotely monitor and deliver commands to devices, such as when to apply software updates, VeriFone said.