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Update: Synchrony confirms Walmart co-brand agreement ending July 2019


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Update: Synchrony confirms Walmart co-brand agreement ending July 2019

Walmart Inc. and Synchrony Financial will not renew their co-branded card program, which will expire July 31, 2019, Synchrony said in a filing.

The statement confirms an earlier report July 26 from The Wall Street Journal that the relationship would end. According to the report, which cited people familiar with the matter, Walmart selected Capital One Financial Corp. as its new store credit card issuer.

By switching to Capital One, Walmart has ended a partnership with Synchrony that began in 1999. The relationship accounted for at least 10% of Synchrony's total interest and fees on loans in 2017. The company plans to discuss the news during an earnings call scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET on July 27.

Synchrony shares sold off after the report was published. The stock was down more than 11% in midafternoon trading before recovering slightly. The shares were down 10.08% to $30.05 as of 3:42 p.m. ET on July 26.

In its filing, Synchrony laid out two scenarios for the approximately $10 billion portfolio related to the Walmart business. In either case, it expects its strategic options to "fully replace" the earnings lost by the program nonrenewal.

One option is to sell the portfolio, which would create a gain to be determined in the first quarter of 2019. Doing so would free up $2.5 billion of capital, the majority of which Synchrony would put toward share buybacks. It would also create $300 million to $350 million in cost savings and a 60- to 70-basis-point reduction to net charge-offs.

Synchrony's other option, according to the filing, is to retain the portfolio and convert the co-brand cards to general-purpose credit cards beginning in the first quarter of 2019. Doing so could help diversify its overall portfolio and create synergies with its direct bank.

Walmart had carried out talks with Capital One and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. earlier this year, shortlisting Capital One and Synchrony in the spring.