(Bloomberg) -- Credit Agricole SA is exploring building a stake in Worldline SA as it looks for ways to help stabilize its struggling payments partner, according to people familiar with the matter. Worldline shares surged as much as 9.1%.
The French lender has been discussing a potential move to buy stock in Worldline after its shares plunged in recent weeks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Credit Agricole is seeking to play a role in shoring up the business, which has a market value of about €4.1 billion ($4.5 billion).
Worldline on Oct. 25 cut its sales outlook, saying consumers are growing more cautious and spending less, hurting the company’s growth and profitability. The shares plunged by 59% that day. The warning added to a string of bad news for the payments industry in Europe, which is grappling with a slowdown after years of growth.
Deliberations are ongoing, and there’s no certainty what form a transaction might ultimately take. It’s possible other French financial institutions could also look to play a role in Worldline’s future, some of the people said. Representatives for Credit Agricole and Worldline declined to comment.
Worldline shares jumped 9.1% to €15.53 at 12:04 p.m. in Paris.
The two companies announced in April that they were forming a joint venture in merchant payments, planning to invest about €80 million over the next two years. Worldline would be the majority owner of the unit, holding 50% plus one share. The agreement replaced the French lender’s previous partnership with Wirecard AG, the German company that collapsed in an accounting scandal.
--With assistance from Alexandre Rajbhandari, Jan-Henrik Förster and Vinicy Chan.
(Updfates with stock move in first, fifth paragraphs.)
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