The Lufthansa Group has signed an agreement with SEB Kort Bank AB of Stockholm, Sweden, for the sale of Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH. The purchase price amounts to around 450 million euros.
Remco Steenbergen, Chief Financial Officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, says: "We are pleased to have found a strong new owner for AirPlus from the financial industry. SEB Kort brings along a great amount of experience in the payment business and has the full support of the AirPlus management. AirPlus is perfectly positioned in the market and, as part of a larger financial group, will be able to realize its potential better than in the Lufthansa Group. In turn, it enables us to focus even more on further improving the profitability and capital returns of the Lufthansa Group core business. My thanks goes to the employees of AirPlus. They have made their company a global leader in B2B payment services."
In addition to Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH in Neu-Isenburg, the transaction includes all international subsidiaries and branches of AirPlus. AirPlus will remain a member of the global payment network UATP after the sale. After completion of the transaction, AirPlus will focus on the further growth of the business with the support of the new owner, exploit opportunities in the B2B payment sector and continue to shape the market, leading with quality and innovation.
“After both signings – of the divestment of the LSG Group in April and of the recent agreement on a shareholding in ITA – the sale of AirPlus is the next major step in the Lufthansa Group strategy to focus on its core business going forward,” says Remco Steenbergen. “Selling two Group companies and agreeing on a stake in ITA – all in less than three months – clearly shows our determination in executing this strategy.”
The transaction is expected to have a positive effect on the Lufthansa Group’s operating margin (Adjusted EBIT) and, also given the capital-intensive business model of AirPlus, its return on capital employed (Adjusted ROCE).
Oliver Wagner, CEO of AirPlus, says: "We are pleased to continue our successful path with a new owner. Our attractive product portfolio, global presence and customer base, and our customer-focused team form a strong basis for joint growth. With this, we are exceptionally positioned to realize our vision of driving the digital transformation in the payment sector and offering our customers a continuously seamless and secure payment experience. Together with SEB Kort, we will write the next chapter of our success story."
Johan Torgeby, President and CEO of SEB Group, says: "We have followed AirPlus for many years and see a compelling strategic fit with SEB Kort. By joining forces, SEB Kort and AirPlus will be well placed for the future corporate payments market, benefitting from complementary strengths, synergies and scale benefits. Furthermore, the transaction will support SEB Group’s broader strategic ambitions within corporate banking in the DACH region and Northern Europe."
Mads Krumhardt Enggren, CEO of SEB Kort says: “The corporate card and payments market is undergoing rapid change as a result of changing customer behaviour, an evolving regulatory framework and technical innovation driving transformation, creating opportunities and challenges for both incumbent and new players. Together, SEB Kort and AirPlus have the necessary expertise, scale and diversification, and modern technological infrastructure to capitalise on future growth opportunities in the market and to drive the further development of a secure digital payments market across Europe. I look forward to welcoming AirPlus’ talented employees as well as its many longstanding customers to SEB Kort and SEB."
In recent years, AirPlus has invested heavily in its own future viability and launched a comprehensive IT transformation. This modern infrastructure will make it possible to open up new markets and develop innovative products with customer-centric solutions.
The transaction is expected to close during the first half of 2024, subject to the relevant external approvals, primarily from various financial regulators.
Goldman Sachs acted as financial advisor to the Lufthansa Group.