By Juliette Portala and Bartosz Dabrowski
(Reuters) -French payments firm Worldline expects a recovery in sales from this quarter as COVID-19 lockdowns ease, after a drop in the first three months of the year, it said on Wednesday.
The company, which processes transactions for clients ranging from merchants to government agencies, also said it saw opportunities to pick up assets being sold by European banks and to win business after the collapse of rival Wirecard last year.
“We expect a rather positive outlook for this second quarter,” finance chief Eric Heurtaux told a media call.
Worldline confirmed its 2021 financial guidance, including a minimum mid-single digit percentage rise in underlying revenues, which Jefferies analysts said was realistic as COVID-19 restrictions ease in key markets and year-on-year comparatives get easier.
Payments processing firms have seen a surge in business as people switch to digital transactions, but the closure of shops, restaurants and other businesses in lockdowns have hit demand.
Worldline’s first-quarter revenues dropped 9% to 1.08 billion euros ($1.30 billion), hit by lockdowns, particularly in Germany and Switzerland.
However, the company is already seeing a pick up in Germany, its largest market, accounting for 20-25% of sales.
“We have actually observed very high rebounds in transaction volumes at the end of the first quarter in Germany,” chief executive Gilles Grapinet said.
Barclays analysts expect double-digit growth for the next four quarters.
Grapinet pointed to consolidation opportunities across Europe and potential new partnerships following the collapse of Wirecard.
“A certain number of European banks have initiated either disposal processes in their portfolio of payment activities, or seek industrial or business partners to strengthen their development and growth capacities,” he said, without identifying the banks.
Worldline said a strategic review of its payment terminal business was on track to be completed this year.
“All options are still on the table,” Grapinet said.
($1 = 0.8326 euros)
(Reporting by Bartosz Dabrowski and Juliette Portala in Gdansk. Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Mark Potter)