OFT approves Voca-Link merger

Payments processor Voca and cash machine operator Link have secured approval for their planned merger from the Office of Fair Trading.

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Payments processor Voca and cash machine operator Link have secured approval for their planned merger from the Office of Fair Trading.

The merged company, which will be named VocaLINK is expected to handle more than 8bn payment transactions a year and is set to extend its operations in Europe further with the implementation of the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) next year.

Voca chief executive Marion King, who will head the new company, said: “I am delighted the OFT have approved the merger and we can now progress with plans to bring the businesses together. Voca and LINK are already working closely on the UK's Faster Payments initiative and the operational and intellectual synergies between the two companies have always been clear.”

Voca processes 90% of the UK’s salaries, 70% of household bills and most state benefits and pension payments. More than 100,000 businesses connect to the Voca network and in 2005 transferred to its new IP-based payments system, Bacstel-IP. In March, database problems at the Bacs clearing system delayed salary payments to up to 400,000 people.

Link’s network connects 130m payment card accounts and 63,000 cash machines. Last year the company processed and settled more than 2.9bn transactions.

Under the terms of the merger, which is still subject to court approval, VocaLINK will be managed through a new board including independent non-executives. Peter Presland, LINK's current chair, will assume the role of non-executive chair at the new company.

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