Ant Financial blasts Euronet in fight for MoneyGram

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Jack Ma's Ant Financial is getting aggressive in its fight to acquire MoneyGram, raising numerous questions about the status and intentions of Euronet and its higher offer.

Leawood, Kan.-based Euronet International last month announced a surprise $1 billion bid for MoneyGram, topping Ant’s $880 million offer and claiming the Chinese company's deal has little chance of gaining U.S. regulatory approval because it poses security risks.

Aiming to “set the record straight,” Ant Financial International’s president

In a statement, Doug Feagin, noted that while Euronet claims to offer security advantages by keeping MoneyGram under U.S. ownership, Euronet’s assets actually are concentrated overseas and its own security isn’t rock-solid.
More than 85% of Euronet’s assets are located outside the U.S., where the company was originally founded, and all but two of Euronet’s servers and data centers are overseas, Feagin said. Euronet also was recently was fined millions of dollars by regulators for a data breach that exposed more than 2 million credit card accounts, according to Feagin.

Euronet touts its operations as complementary to MoneyGram’s for growth, but Feagin said Euronet has told investors the company plans to cut $60 million in costs it if acquires the company, which would inevitably lead to U.S. job cuts. Euronet has 150 employees in Kansas, Feagin said.

“Euronet’s acquisition of MoneyGram would reduce competition by consolidating the industry from three U.S. players to two,” Feagin said, adding that if Ant’s offer for MoneyGram is accepted it will preserve three U.S. money-transmitter competitors, benefitting consumers.

Feagin also raised questions about Euronet’s tax situation, noting that the company derives only 28% of its revenue from U.S. operations and pays “virtually no tax” in the U.S.

Ant Financial has vowed to keep MoneyGram as a fully independent company if it’s acquired, and the parent company will have no access to any U.S. customer data, Feagin reiterated.

“Ant Financial intends to invest significant additional money and resources in MoneyGram, including expenditures to maintain the highest standards of data security and user privacy,” Feagin concluded.

Euronet countered Ant's statement with a general rebuttal.

"Ant Financial is presenting false information in an attempt to distract attention from the real issues that will directly determine its ability to pursue a transaction with MoneyGram," a company spokesperson said.

Euronet said the location of its servers is "completely irrelevant" to data security, adding that access to the architecture of servers controlled by its owner plays a central role in maintaining protection of data.

"Our corporate structure, including our ownership, is straightforward and simple," Euronet's spokesperson said. "The company pays tax on revenue where it is earned. Furthermore, we routinely bring back cash earned in foreign markets, which has already been taxed by local entities at rates similar to the U.S. federal tax, to pay down our debt held in the U.S."

MoneyGram’s CEO Alex Holmes earlier this week told the Financial Times many of Euronet’s claims about the possible security risks Ant Financial poses were “simply untrue.”

MoneyGram is contractually required to consider Ant Financial’s deal first and if it rejects the offer, Ant has four business days to respond. Analysts suggest the deal could drag out while Ant explores its options.

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Cross border payments Money transfers M&A Jack Ma MoneyGram