March 25, 2015 / 9:49 AM / 2 years ago

Monitise ends sale process, Buse to become sole CEO

(Reuters) - British mobile-banking software maker Monitise Plc said it was no longer looking to sell itself and that its founder and co-CEO Alastair Lukies would step down, handing over full executive control to Elizabeth Buse.

Shares in the company fell as much as 22 percent in early trading, making the stock one of the top losers on the London Stock Exchange.

Monitise, which named long-time Visa executive Buse as co-CEO last June, put itself on the block in January, blaming changes in its business model for its third revenue warning in a year.

U.S. tech giant FIS, Mastercard and IBM had all been named as potential suitors. (bit.ly/1vQGgSK)

Monitise said it had received a number or "expressions of interest from various parties" but concluded that none of the proposals recognized the longer term value of the company.

The company would now focus on sales in Europe, the Middle East and North America and look at improving its under-performing businesses and exit non-core business areas, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Founded in 2003, Monitise blazed a trail by linking banks and mobile operators to build a business capable of handling more than $70 billion a year in mobile payments, purchases and money transfers.

But the former high-tech darling has come up against tough competition from the free mobile payment systems offered by companies such as Google Inc and Apple Inc.

The company reiterated its 2015 revenue guidance of 90 million to 100 million pounds and a core loss of 40 million to 50 million pounds.

"Monitise remains on track to become EBITDA profitable in FY 2016," Buse said in the statement.

The company added that it would look at additional functionalities for its Monitise Central Platform, depending on customer demand. The platform is to be launched in April.

BTIG analysts pointed out in a note earlier this month that the platform was key to reigniting growth.

Monitise also appointed Stephen Shurrock, CEO of Consumer at Telefónica within the commercial and digital unit, as a non-executive director representing strategic shareholders Telefónica and Santander.

Visa Europe, Visa Inc, Banco Santander and Telefonica SA are among Monitise's top 10 shareholders.

Monitise shares were down 13.9 percent at 15.5 pence at 5.41 a.m. ET in heavy volume trading. The stock has lost about 10 percent since the company put itself on the block.

Reporting by Aashika Jain and Roshni Menon in Bengaluru; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi

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