S1's Reporting Software Unit Courting U.S. Banks
Gibson, Kate, American Banker
S1 Corp. is primarily a vendor of Internet banking and channel management software for financial services companies, but one of its divisions sells regulatory reporting and financial analytics products and is now marketing them to U.S. companies.
The Atlanta company bought the business -- now known as FRS, for financial reporting software -- in mid-1999, at the same time that it bought Edify Corp., then a competitor in Internet banking software. S1 was known as Security First Technologies until those acquisitions were made.
While neither deal seems to have worked out exactly as well S1 had hoped, it is now promoting FRS. The division was a private, independent company in Brussels called FICS when S1 bought it, and most of its 625 financial institution customers are in Europe.
Ironically, perhaps, S1 is now trying to sell what remains of Edify after trying to sell what is now FRS. Charles Herel, FRS' vice president of marketing and business development, said that S1 "shopped the business for about a year but ... did not get the price they thought it was worth."
As it did with Edify in its 2002 earnings report, S1 listed FRS as "discontinued operations" in its 2000 figures, Mr. Herel said.
Brian Gendron, a spokesman for S1, on Tuesday said it is "still in discussions with several" potential buyers of Edify, which primarily sells customer relationship management products now.
FRS has been in business for nearly 15 years, but only five of its customers are in the United States, and two of them signed up during the last year. The most recent was PNC Financial Services Group Inc. of Pittsburgh, which became an FRS customer last month. The U.S. operations of HSBC Holdings PLC signed up last year.
The division's other U.S. clients are Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala., the Union Bank of California subsidiary of UnionBanCal Corp. (which is mostly owned by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd.), and the U.S. operations of Germany's Commerzbank AG.
"We are raising our profile in the U.S. market as we start to see demand increase -- we have not invested heavily in marketing until now," said William A. Soward, the general manager of FRS.
Mr. Soward, who was vice president of business development at Edify before the acquisition, became senior vice president of corporate development at S1 after the purchase. …