Austrian group swoops for Lancashire plastic card manufacturer

Ronnie Hart

A Lancashire plastic payment card manufacturer has been acquired by an Austrian group, for an undisclosed sum.

Nitecrest, based in Leyland, has been bought by Austriacard, which had merged with Tag Systems, located in Andorra, Spain.

Austriacard GmbH has acquired 100% of the shares of Nitecrest. The key shareholders and leadership team of Nitecrest hold equity positions in the new group structure and continue in their leading positions, ensuring continuity for Nitecrest’s partners, customers and employees, under the umbrella of Vienna-based Austriacard.

P. Spyropoulos, Austriacard group CEO, said: “Following the successful merger with Tag Systems in recent years, Austriacard’s decision to join forces with Nitecrest was straightforward, the latter being a leading provider for cards and services in the UK with sales globally, as well as the undisputed leader for Europe’s fintechs, through Tag_Nitecrest.

“The fit was perfectly complementary.”

Jon Neeraas, CEO of Tag Systems, said: “We have always been super impressed by Nitecrest’s group rounded service offering. Collectively, we have continued to dominate the fintech and retail space and are very pleased to have reached a deal at group level of Austriacard Holdings, with Nitecrest’s shareholders and management.

“We strongly believe that this move shall enhance our offering and add value for our customers, employees and shareholders.”

Ronnie Hart, chairman of Nitecrest and Tag_Nitecrest and CEO of Nitecrest, said: “We are excited to join forces with Austriacard, as this will allow us to expand further and capitalise on serving our valued customers on a worldwide level, thanks to the industrial robustness and cutting edge technologies of Austriacard.”

Leeroy Pye, CEO of Tag_Nitecrest, said: “At group level we are about to change the game.

“Our fintech and challenger bank customer adoption takes the entire group into a new era, as we shall be able, for the first time, to offer product-led core banking services. We are partnering with key companies around the globe, to flip card issuing on its head and take the helm to delivering the next generation of payment cards.”

Austriacard Holdings is an Austrian group of high-tech IT in Hardware Embedded Security founded in 1897 and has an international presence with three divisions, Austriacard/Tag, Inform and Nautilus, in the fields of digital security in payments and identity, digital transformation in the document lifecycle and security in the IoT, respectively.

Austriacard Holdings operates seven production facilities and seven personaliation centres in Europe, one in the USA and one in South America. In 2020, at a pro-forma level including Nitecrest and Tag_Nitecrest, Austriacard Holdings achieved a consolidated turnover of approximately £170m and employs currently around 1,600 staff.

Nitecrest was founded in 1996, produces and personalises gift and loyalty and telecom cards for the local and global market.

In addition, it holds a 50% stake in Tag_Nitecrest, founded in 2016, which handles sales and personalisation of payment cards for financial institutions in Great Britain.

In 2020, Nitecrest and Tag_Nitecrest achieved a consolidated turnover of £25.5m and currently employs around 160 people.