February 12, 2019 / 6:08 PM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-French payments firm Ingenico sees return to profit growth

(Adds company comments, detail, background)

By Piotr Lipinski

Feb 12 (Reuters) - French payment processing firm Ingenico’s new management forecast a return to core earnings growth this year, driven by its retail division and a steadier performance at its banks business that triggered profit warnings in 2018.

The company said on Tuesday it expected earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to top 550 million euros ($623 million) this year.

It reported 2018 EBITDA of 488 million euros, down 7 percent on the year before, but ahead of the 485 million estimate it gave in its latest profit warning in January.

New finance chief Michel-Alain Proch forecast another year of double-digit percentage growth at the group’s retail division, and said its banks and acquirers business should stabilise, helped by a recovery in emerging markets and wider use of the Android mobile operating system.

Proch, who previously worked for peer Atos and co-led the IPO of its payment subsidiary Worldline, was appointed last week to replace Nathalie Lomon.

Ingenico reshuffled its top management in November, separating the roles of chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), and appointing Nicolas Huss as CEO and Bernard Bourigeaud as chairman.

Following last year’s profit warnings, the company attracted bid interest from Edenred and Natixis, according to sources, but has since decided to focus on its turnaround plan.

“The most important thing for me today ... is to revive Ingenico as a whole,” Huss said, adding the company had no current plans to separate its banks and acquirer division.

The company, which has dropped its target for EBITDA to top 700 million euros by 2020, will provide an update on its mid-term strategy at a capital markets day in April, Huss said.

$1 = 0.8833 euros Reporting by Piotr Lipinski in Gdynia; Editing by Jan Harvey and Mark Potter

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