Santander acquires Wirecard merchant account tech, employees

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In a boost to its battle with non-bank digital platforms, Spain's Banco Santander has acquired technology assets from scandal-ridden German payments processor Wirecard.

Santander's €100 million acquisition of the European merchant payments business at Wirecard includes about 500 Wirecard employees managing the acquired assets. They will become part of Santander's global merchant services team under its Getnet global franchise.

“At Santander, we aim to provide the best payment solutions and services to our customers," Ana Botin, Santander executive chairman, said in a Tuesday press release. "The assets and talent we will gain as part of the acquisition will help us accelerate Getnet’s expansion plans in Europe, while also increasing our product development capacity.”

Wirecard AG filed for insolvency last June as a result of the accounting scandal that led to the arrest of its CEO and left the German payment-processing firm unable to find more than $2 billion missing from its balance sheet.

The Wirecard collapse left the income ledgers of many of its client banks with big holes, and triggered a rush for other companies to pick up the pieces and lure Wirecard clients into their folds or obtain needed technology.

Insolvency administrator Michael Jaffe on Monday confirmed the acquisition of Wirecard's "highly specialized technological assets."

"It is particularly pleasing that this result offers employees a positive perspective," Jaffe said of the employees to be incorporated into the Santander team. "Thus, we have achieved our goal of finding the best possible solution for employees and creditors."

In October Santander announced plans to bring together its most disruptive payments businesses, including Getnet, within a new autonomous business PagoNxt to compete with non-bank digital payments platforms. In addition, in April the bank launched the PagoFX money transfer app to rival other players in that field.

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