Sopra Steria clarifies its strategic direction by selling a majority stake in Sopra Banking Software (SBS)

In February 2024, Sopra Steria announced the disposal of the bulk of SBS's business (Sopra Banking Software) to Axway. It generated around EUR 340 million of revenue for Sopra Steria during FY 2023, which represents approximately 80% of SBS’s entire business. While Sopra Steria’s banking division focuses mainly on delivering IT services to large banks, SBS provides banking software products and related services primarily to tier-2 and tier-3 institutions.

Sopra Steria’s vision is clear: The company is striving to become a “European alternative to global players in the (financial) industry”. In this context, according to Pierre Pasquier, Chairman of Sopra Steria, “SBS’s software business is not central to the strategic priorities of a European digital services company like Sopra Steria”. The group will focus its future activities and investments on its SI capabilities for the European market.

The shared history of Axway and SBS

Axway and SBS share a common history and much of their DNA: both companies were born within Sopra Steria Group.

SBS was created in 2012 by capitalizing on banking software assets from Sopra’s legacy. The company has pursued an inorganic growth strategy, acquiring banking software specialists in France (SAB), the UK (Luminosity), and Germany (Fidor Solutions). Today, SBS is a global core banking software provider. According to SBS, it has more than 650 clients worldwide, including the 10 largest European banks and half of the banks in Africa. 250 banks in Europe use payment solutions from SBS.

Axway is also a former software subsidiary of Sopra Steria. It was spun off a year earlier, in 2011. The company offers middleware solutions (API-driven B2B integration, API management platform, etc.) with no specific vertical focus on the financial services industry. Axway has been growing internationally, beyond Europe, predominantly through multiple acquisitions. Today, the company has over 1,700 employees; its solutions have been deployed in more than 18 countries.

Axway and SBS have been partners for many years, with Axway enhancing SBS’s banking solutions with open banking capabilities.

SBS has expanded its CxO-level management

Since December 2023, SBS has been expanding its CxO positions:

  • In December 2023, Raouf Mhenni was appointed as Chief Commercial Officer.
  • In February 2024, SBS appointed Andrew Steadman (ex-Temenos and ex-Fiserv) as Chief Product Officer.
  • In January 2024, Tobias Unger became Chief Operating Officer. It is worth noting that, during the first 9 years of his career, Unger worked as M&A adviser and principal investor in the financial services sector. Between 2016 and 2019, Unger also held executive positions at SBS’s competitor Avaloq, a core banking provider that was acquired by Japanese company NEC in October 2020. Moreover, Unger has been the CEO of the German SFT (Sopra Financial Technology) since 2022.

However, now that SBS is planned to be sold, there might be changes in the management team again.

The ‘new’ Axway

Through the acquisition, the ‘new’ Axway will more than double its revenues to around EUR 650 million. If completed, the transaction will enable Axway to expand its software portfolio and place a focus on banking applications and integration. In the future, the ‘new’ Axway sets a clear SaaS strategy and plans to deliver IT operation services around the modular core banking system, offer new digital engagement solutions for banking customers, and provide them with new opportunities for differentiation through open and embedded banking capabilities. The company will remain closely linked to Sopra Steria through a strategic partnership, and Sopra Steria will also retain a stake of around 11%.

For more information about Sopra Steria’s activities in local markets such as France and Germany, or if you would like to find out more about the current digital trends in the French and German banking sectors (such as open and embedded banking), refer to our market reports on the SITSI research platform.

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