Rumors have raged for months of a possible takeover of weakened ATM machine producer Wincor Nixorf, about approaches by a U.S. financial investor or talks with competitors.
Talk turned mid-week to another takeover approach by U.S. competitor Diebold, the world’s third-largest maker of cash machines. Wincor Nixdorf shares jumped as much 13 percent on Wednesday on speculation of a takeover of the number two on the market by Diebold.
Eckard Heidloff, Wincor’s chief executive, nipped the rumors in the bud.
“There haven’t been any talks about a merger or takeover,” he told Handelsblatt on Thursday. “There hasn’t been a takeover offer. We in management don’t think this is the right path.”
Mr. Heidloff, however, did not rule out closer partnerships with competitors such as Diebold. “We’re already cooperating and exchanging components, for example,” he said. “And that’s something our industry still has to learn to do better.”
“A merger would bring more disadvantages than advantages.”
That does not necessarily mean a merger. “We don’t see the synergies,” he said. “A merger would bring more disadvantages than advantages.”
The speculation surrounding a possible takeover of Wincor Nixdorf has much to do with its weak financial situation.
After its disappointing mid-year numbers and a lowered annual forecast, Mr. Heidloff presented a comprehensive restructuring program in April. He is working to transform the company into a provider of software and services, to generate better margins than selling bank and point of sale terminals.
Wincor Nixdorf can maintain its autonomy this way, Mr. Heidloff said. This shift means over the next three years, 1,000 of 9,200 positions will be cut, and in Germany, 500 of the 3,700 employees will lose their jobs.
Wincor has yet to recover from the 2008 financial crisis and moves by banks to make greater savings. Many financial institutions and major commercial chains have put off larger investments in new terminals for years.
Mr. Heidloff conceded he had reacted late to changing trends and said he planned to double the proportion of software and IT services in the coming years. “As the banks are changing, we are changing too,” he said.
Market observers such as Adrian Pehl of Equinet, an investment bank, say a merger with Diebold makes sense. “There are hardly any geographic overlaps,” he said.
Wincor is weak in the United States and Asia; Diebold could move into these areas right away, leaving Wincor Nixdorf to concentrate on Europe and Germany. The synergies would be high, Mr. Pehl said, “which could lead to strong margins for both parties.”
Wincor Nixdorf is currently valued on the stock exchange at €1.1 billion; Diebold is valued at €2 billion.
For the U.S.-based competitor, a takeover of Wincor Nixdorf initially seems to be the logical step. The company pulled out of Germany five years ago because of the strength of its competitor, meaning there is a blank spot on the European map for Diebold. Together with NCR, the company dominates the rest of the world; it is number one in the United States and Latin America and number two in Asia. Only in Europe is it in third place.
Diebold also has strong ties to Germany. Founded in 1859 by a German immigrant, it is currently being led by Andreas Mattes. Mr. Mattes, who was born in Nuremberg and studied in Munich, worked at Siemens for 20 years before he took over at Diebold in 2013.
The company did not respond to a request for comment from Handelsblatt. But in an interview a few months ago, Mr. Mattes did not appear to be especially interested in an expansion into Germany. His priority was to turn Diebold around, he said.
After taking up his position, Mr. Mattes fired hundreds of employees and also shifted the company’s focus more towards software. In the most recent quarter the business recovered, with its share price rising by 40 percent. Turnover rose in 2014 by $300 million to more than $3 billion. “We have just learned to crawl,” he said, describing the company’s progress. “One day we will run again.”
Martin Wocher and Thomas Jahn are both editors with Handelsblatt’s German edition. Mr. Wocher is currently based in Düsseldorf, covering engineering and the steel industry while Mr. Jahn is based in New York, covering U.S. news. To contact the authors: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com