RealTime IT News

Uno-e, First-e Agree Merger Deal

[London, ENGLAND] Uno-e Bank and First-e Group will merge to create the UnoFirst Group valued at nearly $1.5 billion, following a final agreement signed this week.

The companies behind the merger -- Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) and Terra Networks for Uno-e, and First-e Group's owner enba plc -- say they intend to create the "first truly global Internet financial services provider."

First-e currently operates in the United Kingdom and Germany, while Uno-e is based Spain. As First-e Group the combined banks have plans to expand across Europe, Latin America, the United States and Asia.

"We are pioneering the 'financial supermarket' concept and some other competitors are already following our lead," noted the new Executive Chairman of UnoFirst Group Manuel Galatas, formerly chief executive of Uno-e.

Gerhard Huber, the new chief executive of UnoFirst Group, said he was convinced that the combination of strengths in banking and technology created by the merger would be key to providing customer satisfaction. After all, he said, the Internet is "about making life easier for consumers."

Since launching a U.K. operation in November 1999, the component parts of UnoFirst Group have acquired a customer base of around 100,000 clients and have nearly $350 million of assets under management.

Expansion plans already announced by UnoFirst are a launch in Latin America in early 2001, with Brazil, Mexico and Argentina the main targets for growth, and a deal with Overseas Union Bank in Singapore.

Earlier this year, in May, Terra Networks announced that it intended to acquire search company Lycos to create a global Internet portal.