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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Spring returns: Idemia is for sale again!

Several news outlets are announcing the sale of Idemia, a major player in our secure transactions industry world, as imminent. Those with good memory will remember this has already been announced several times, officially or over the grapevine, the last one being in spring last year. In 2022, the demanded price was EUR 4 billion; Advent considered splitting the company in two, separating the "government business," valued at EUR 3 billion from the "enterprise business," which includes SIM cards, payment cards and all non-government related activities, valued at EUR 1 billion. Seemingly no acquirer was found.

Idemia is owned by private equity group Advent, which, according to Les Echos, has launched the sale of the French biometrics and fingerprint identification firm. A memo has been sent to potential acquirers setting up the price tag at EUR 5 to 6 billion. Offers are expected to be returned by April 18, 2023. According to Reuters, banks Goldman Sachs and Rothschild have been mandated for the sale. This time, Advent plans to sell Idemia as a single entity including both its biometrics and payment activities.

As Idemia is privately owned, they do not report detailed results publicly. However, the company, which positions itself as “the leader in identity technologies,” says it has made EUR 2.2 billion in revenue in 2021. They add they issued 900 million “connectivity credentials” for 500 mobile operators and 800 million “payment credentials” per year; also they provisioned over 100 million tokens from different token requestors. Idemia claims to be the #1 in fintech payment cards, issuing US driver’s licenses, civil identity solutions and passenger facilitation solutions. Idemia says it has delivered 5 million biometric devices and over 15,000 fingerprint access control terminals. The company has issued over 3 billion identity documents and supports over 30 border control agencies and 150 criminal identification systems. Idemia employs 15,000 people and has operations in 50 countries.

In anticipation of the sale, Goldman Sachs is building a EUR 2.5 billion debt-only financing structure; the total debt would be about 4.5 times Idemia’s Ebitda, which bankers approximated at EUR 550 million, says Bloomberg. Companies including Thales, and investment funds Brookfield Asset Management and Apollo Global Management, which acquired 85% of Ingenico in October 2022 for a valuation of EUR 2.3 billion, have expressed interest.

However, last year, Thales had expressed interest in acquiring some activities from Idemia for EUR 3 to 4 billion, although the scope of the purchase was limited by antitrust regulations, according to Biometric Update.

Idemia has been majority-owned by Advent since 2017 and counts French government owned investment bank BPI France as a shareholder. Advent acquired a 90% majority in Oberthur Technologies in 2011 for EUR 1.15 billion; the Savare family at that time keeping 10%, which were later transmitted to BPI France, the French government investment bank. The new company had been formed in September 2017. At that time, Advent International, which already owned Oberthur Technologies had been able to complete the purchase of Morpho (Safran Identity & Security) for EUR 2.4 billion. On September 28, 2017, the name Idemia was announced to replace OT-Morpho. Advent said at the time they already had investments in the same sector, in Vantiv (US), WorldPay (UK), Monext (France) and Mach (Luxembourg). Later, Advent also added Nets, a major North European payment processor, Concardis, a German provider of merchant services and Euronet, a leader in ATM operation, among others to its portfolio.

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