Oberthur Technologies (OT) is a global leader in digital security solutions for the mobility space. The company has consistently been at the forefront of mobility, from the first smart cards to the latest contactless payment technologies, which equip millions of smartphones, payment cards and identity documents.
Present in the payment, telecommunications and identity markets, OT offers end-to-end solutions in the smart transactions, mobile financial services, machine-to-machine, digital identity and transport and access control fields. The group employs over 6,000 people worldwide, including close to 700 R&D staff. With more than 50 sales offices across five continents and one manufacturing hub by region, OT’s international network serves a large base of clients in 140 countries. The company generated revenue of over $1 billion in 2014.
FINDING THE RIGHT PARTNER
IN A GROWING MARKET
Advent International had already made numerous investments in the payments and Telco sectors—including Vantiv (US), WorldPay (UK), Monext (France) and Mach (Luxembourg)—and OT looked like a strong prospect in an adjacent space.
"Right from the start, we knew that Oberthur Technologies had a solid foundation for growth,” said Cédric Chateau, managing director and general manager of Advent’s Paris office. “The main payments business unit in particular showed significant potential, with its market forecast to grow at double-digit rates worldwide. We believed that this organic growth, combined with increased operational efficiencies, would create an even stronger company.”
Beyond the promise of organic growth, particularly in emerging markets, OT stood to benefit from the future adoption of chip-and-PIN cards in the US and dual interface cards in Europe. The development of LTE (4G) SIM cards and other advanced solutions for mobile payments also boded well for the company.
We began advanced discussions with OT in early 2011, when the company was a subsidiary of a family-owned French conglomerate. We entered into exclusive negotiations in August 2011 and, together with management, acquired full control of the business in November of that year.
IMPROVING THE ORGANIZATION AND STREAMLINING OPERATIONS
Following our investment and the subsequent carve-out of OT, we worked closely with management to improve operations and position the company to realize new sources of growth. For example, we supported management in transitioning the company from regional business units to four core product business units in payments, telecoms, solutions and identity, each with its own management structure.
Furthermore, OT has reorganized its global manufacturing footprint to create one manufacturing hub for each major region of the world (Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Middle East/Africa). The move should yield substantial economies of scale.
With a more efficient, well-organized operation, the company is now focused on expanding the business—both through organic growth and strategic acquisitions. In the latter area, for instance, OT acquired NagraID Security, a specialist in dynamic display cards, in August 2014. This is a unique payment card product with a dynamic “CVV” display, which is gaining strong early interest from banking customers and significantly reduces fraud in “card-not-present” payment transactions. OT has also made significant investments in manufacturing and personnel in the US to position itself for the future.
All of these initiatives have contributed to strong performance at the company. OT met or exceeded the vast majority of its sales and financial objectives in 2014, highlighted by double-digit EBITDA growth.
“I’m convinced that OT is in the right place at the right time,” said OT CEO Didier Lamouche. “We are one of the few companies able to provide world-class digital security technology embedded in any environment—paper, plastic, mobile devices, wearables, cloud—for any end-to-end solution. With Advent’s support, we are executing on our strategy and are well-positioned in a fast-growing, dynamic industry.”