Synchrony Financial executives suggested Wednesday they’re open to working with former partner Walmart again after the retail giant sued card issuer rival Capital One.
Walmart sued Capital One on April 7, seeking to end the relationship over the bank’s failure to meet certain terms of their contract. Walmart alleges Capital One was slow to issue replacement cards and post transactions and payments to customer accounts.
Stamford, Connecticut-based Synchrony is familiar with Walmart’s litigiousness, as the two were partners for almost two decades before the retailer sued Synchrony.
Before striking up a partnership with Capital One in 2018, Walmart used Synchrony as its credit card issuer for 19 years. The retailer filed suit against Synchrony that year, alleging Synchrony’s underwriting standards caused Walmart financial harm, according to The Wall Street Journal. Walmart later dropped the lawsuit.
Despite that history, Synchrony executives, during a first-quarter earnings call Wednesday, expressed a willingness to work with the retail behemoth again.
After an analyst on the call asked about Synchrony’s appetite for that business, Synchrony CEO Brian Doubles said he didn’t want to speculate on Walmart’s situation, but added the private-label card issuer is generally “always in the market for large portfolio acquisitions.”
Doubles noted Synchrony still works with Walmart-owned retail warehouse chain Sam’s Club.
“We've got a great relationship with Sam's Club, going back 25-plus years — great alignment, great engagement and momentum on that program,” Doubles said.
Still, Doubles hinted at past issues between Synchrony and Walmart.
“You’ve got to have really good alignment, you’ve got to have the right balance of risk and returns,” Doubles said. “I think that's important — particularly in an environment like this, where you're kind of heading into a period of uncertainty. So, we’ll continue to stay very disciplined around risk and returns.”
Walmart didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Doubles’s comments suggest Synchrony isn’t partaking in a bid process for the portfolio, although “that could be because it’s too early,” Oppenheimer & Co. Analyst Dominick Gabriele said in an email Wednesday.
That said, the two couldn’t agree on price last time, and “most likely that hasn’t changed,” Gabriele said. “Probably pretty slim (Synchrony) and Walmart can find equal ground.”
Synchrony reported quarterly net earnings dropped 36%, to $601 million, according to the company’s first-quarter earnings release. Net interest income, fueled by higher interest and fees on card loans, rose 7%, to $4.1 billion in the quarter, the company said.