Thinking about processing a payment, Sage Group? Biz confirms mulling sale of Sage Pay

A farewell to merchant services arm?

Shape-shifting accounting software outfit Sage has confirmed it is seeking to offload the Sage Pay division.

The London Stock Exchange-listed company made the admission in response to a report that it had recently hired investment bank Rothschild to market the division.

While insisting "there can be no certainty that this evaluation will lead to any transaction", Sage has already flogged its US payroll tentacle, Sage Payroll Solutions, in a deal that completed back in February.

Sage Payroll Solutions went for approximately £78m, according the company and Sage reported a gain of £27m on the disposal in its unaudited accounts to 31 March 2019. The company has not shared how much it is seeking to make from the Sage Pay business.

A glance at Sage Pay Europe's results in the accounts for the year ending 30 September 2018 shows revenues of £32.86m, up from £28.69m in the previous year. Profits were also a healthy £18.54m, up from £16.3m in 2017.

And that was with a most un-Amazon-like tax bill of £4.4m.

The UK accounted for the lion's share of those Sage Pay revenues, increasing to £27.1m. Revenue from Europe also climbed to £4.93m, up from £4.09m in 2017. Things didn't go so well with the rest of the world – the company saw a decline from £0.92m to £0.82m.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, Sage Pay is a minnow as far as the wider Sage Group is concerned. In its latest set of unaudited accounts the group boasted total revenues of £941m for the first half of 2019, up 6.2 per cent year-on-year.

CEO Steve Hare, formerly the CFO and then interim CEO, replaced high-profile group head Stephen Kelly in November last year after Kelly left the £790k-a-year job in August. The accounting software org has been making a push to the cloud that analysts have warned would come at "the cost of short-term growth and profitability".

Sage Pay itself started life back in 2001 as UK merchant services firm Protx before being acquired by Sage in 2006 and given a brand makeover in 2009 to become Sage Pay. It currently lays claim to 50,000 customers. ®

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