A lot has happened at Fidelity National Information Services Inc. in the nine months since Stephanie Ferris was promoted to CEO of the Jacksonville-based company known as FIS.
“It feels like 15 years,” Ferris said Sept. 7 during a talk at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology Conference in San Franciso.
“No, I’m just kidding,” she quickly added.
But she’s been busy, including announcing an $11.7 billion deal in July to sell a majority interest in the company’s Worldpay merchant payments technology business.
Worldpay has produced disappointing results since financial technology firm FIS acquired the company in 2019.
“We came into the year with a very high sense of urgency around Worldpay,” Ferris said.
She said the deal is progressing well.
“We’re on track to close that in the first quarter,” she said.
Besides dealing with Worldpay, Ferris said she had two other priorities. One was to reestablish credibility with investors after the company’s stock price dropped since mid-2021.
Another priority is the company’s “Future Forward” program, which includes achieving $1 billion in annual cost savings but is also “a program we’re using to fundamentally transform the business,” Ferris said.
FIS is looking at ways to serve its clients better through the program, including faster product development in a world where technology is constantly changing.
“We really are pulling every lever,” Ferris said.
Hinrichs: More labor talks coming for CSX
Before joining CSX Corp. as CEO a year ago, Joe Hinrichs built a reputation for successfully working with autoworker unions during a two-decade career at Ford Motor Co.
That seems to be coming in handy because Hinrichs has spent much of his time working on contracts with railroad unions at CSX, and he’s far from done with that.
Major railroads reached a five-year agreement with unions in late 2022, but that contract covers the years 2020 through 2024.
“We have to do all it all over again next year,” Hinrichs said during a Sept. 6 talk to the TD Cowen Global Transportation Conference in Boston.
Hinrichs expressed optimism that negotiations will be smoother for the next contract.
“I’m certainly hopeful we’ve all learned our lessons from the last one and we’ll be able to manage it in a different way,” he said.
Hinrichs said the outlook for freight shipments on Jacksonville-based CSX’s railroad network remains mixed.
“We’re seeing some strength and some weakness,” he said.
A bright spot has been coal shipments, because the summer weather has increased demand.
“We did more coal in the Southern utilities because of the heat,” Hinrichs said.
“We feel good about where we are but we’re watching the economy very closely,” he said.
Forbes ranks Jaguars 43rd most valuable sports team
The Jacksonville Jaguars moved up a spot in Forbes magazine’s annual list of most valuable sports franchises, ranking 43rd in the world with an estimated value of $4 billion.
The ranking reflects the overall financial strength of the NFL, bolstered by the league’s big television deals, Forbes reported in a story posted Sept. 8.
The ranking of the top 50 global franchises included 30 of the 32 NFL teams. The Jaguars ranked 28th among NFL teams.
Seven soccer teams and six NBA teams made the list.
Forbes said the Jaguars’ value has increased by 92% over the last five years.
Shad Khan bought the team in 2011 for an estimated $770 million.
Firehouse to open in the UAE and Oman
As part of its plan to expand internationally, Firehouse Subs announced a partnership Sept. 10 to open more than 100 restaurants across the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Firehouse announced the partnership with the Apparel Group, a UAE-based fashion and lifestyle retail conglomerate.
Restaurant Brands International Inc., which acquired Jacksonville-based Firehouse in December 2021, has said expanding the brand into new global markets is a key part of its growth strategy.
Firehouse has more than 1,200 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada and opened its first European restaurant in Switzerland in June. It also announced plans to expand into Mexico.
“We are very excited to continue our path to expand the Firehouse Subs brand across the world. Apparel Group has been a strong partner operating the Tim Hortons brand in the Middle East/North Africa region since 2013 and we believe their extensive experience and expertise will bring numerous advantages to the brand’s continued growth,” David Shear, president of RBI’s international operations, said in a news release.
Toronto-based RBI owns the Firehouse, Tim Hortons, Burger King and Popeyes restaurant chains.
Summit, Argos announce $3.2B cement merger
Colombia-based Cementos Argos announced an agreement to merge its U.S. subsidiary, Argos North America Corp., with Denver-based Summit Materials Inc. to form the fourth-largest U.S. cement company.
Argos has a significant cement and concrete operation in Jacksonville and the rest of Florida, which it acquired from Vulcan Materials Co. for $720 million in 2014.
Birmingham, Alabama-based Vulcan acquired those operations when it bought Jacksonville-based Florida Rock Industries Inc. for $4.2 billion in 2007.
“The Argos USA team has done an excellent job growing and operating its business,” Summit CEO Anne Noonan said in a Sept. 7 news release.
“The transaction will extend our geographic reach into high growth markets, creating a leading cement enterprise nationwide, and bring together two talent-rich organizations to innovate and deliver value-added solutions for our customers,” she said.
Summit is acquiring the U.S. business from Argos for $3.2 billion in cash and stock. As part of the transaction, Cementos Argos will own 31% of Summit.
Analyst upgrades Regency Centers
Raymond James analyst RJ Milligan upgraded his rating on Jacksonville-based Regency Centers Corp. from “market perform” to “outperform” in a Sept. 5 update report on real estate investment trusts that operate shopping centers.
“We currently favor the shopping center REITs with higher exposure to grocery-anchored centers and limited exposure to the big-box tenant fallout,” Milligan said.
“Regency has one of the best development/redevelopment pipelines across the space and had a busy quarter of starts in 2Q ($175M) which we believe will continue to drive longer-term value creation,” he said.
Milligan also reiterated his positive view on Regency’s $1.4 billion acquisition in August of Urstadt Biddle Properties Inc., which added 77 properties mainly in the New York metropolitan area.
“We view this portfolio acquisition as an opportunity for Regency to get their hands on irreplaceable retail real estate which Regency can improve over time using its operational expertise and lower cost of capital,” he said.