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Table of Contents

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)

            ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

or

            TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from          to

Commission file number 001-15749

ALLIANCE DATA SYSTEMS CORPORATION

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Graphic

Delaware

31-1429215

(State or other jurisdiction of

(I.R.S. Employer

incorporation or organization)

Identification No.)

3075 Loyalty Circle

43219

Columbus, Ohio

(Zip Code)

(Address of principal executive offices)

(614) 729-4000

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

Trading symbol

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common stock, par value $0.01 per share

ADS

New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

(Title of class)

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer Accelerated filer Non-accelerated filer Smaller reporting company Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes No

As of June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $2.1 billion, based upon the closing price of $45.12 per share on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2020, which was the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter.

As of February 18, 2021, 49,695,051 shares of common stock were outstanding.

Documents Incorporated By Reference

Certain information called for by Part III is incorporated by reference to certain sections of the Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of our stockholders, which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after December 31, 2020.

Table of Contents

ALLIANCE DATA SYSTEMS CORPORATION

INDEX

Item No.

Form 10-K

Report

Page

    

    

Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

1

PART I

1. 

Business

2

1A. 

Risk Factors

12

1B. 

Unresolved Staff Comments

28

2. 

Properties

28

3. 

Legal Proceedings

29

4. 

Mine Safety Disclosures

29

PART II

5. 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

30

6. 

Selected Financial Data

32

7. 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

35

7A. 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

49

8. 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

50

9. 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

50

9A. 

Controls and Procedures

50

9B. 

Other Information

51

PART III

10. 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

51

11. 

Executive Compensation

51

12. 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

51

13. 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

51

14. 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

51

PART IV

15. 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

52

16. 

Form 10-K Summary

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Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This Form 10-K and the documents incorporated by reference herein contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements give our expectations or forecasts of future events and can generally be identified by the use of words such as “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “project,” “plan,” “likely,” “may,” “should” or other words or phrases of similar import. Similarly, statements that describe our business strategy, outlook, objectives, plans, intentions or goals also are forward-looking statements. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements we make regarding strategic initiatives, our expected operating results, future economic conditions including currency exchange rates, future dividend declarations and the guidance we give with respect to our anticipated financial performance. We believe that our expectations are based on reasonable assumptions. Forward-looking statements, however, are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the projections, anticipated results or other expectations expressed in this report, and no assurances can be given that our expectations will prove to have been correct. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the following:

continuing impacts related to COVID-19, including government economic stimulus, relief measures for impacted borrowers and depositors, labor shortages due to quarantine, reduction in demand from clients, supply chain disruption for our reward suppliers and disruptions in the airline or travel industries;
loss of, or reduction in demand for services from, significant clients;
increases in fraudulent activity, net charge-offs in credit card and loan receivables or increases or volatility in the allowance for loan loss that may result from the application of the current expected credit loss model;
failure to identify, complete or successfully integrate or disaggregate business acquisitions or divestitures;
continued financial responsibility with respect to a divested business, including required equity ownership, guarantees, indemnities or other financial obligations;
increases in the cost of doing business, including market interest rates;
inability to access financial or capital markets, including asset-backed securitization funding or deposits markets;
loss of active AIR MILES® Reward Program collectors;
increased redemptions by AIR MILES Reward Program collectors;
unfavorable fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates;
limitations on consumer credit, loyalty or marketing services from new legislative or regulatory actions related to consumer protection and consumer privacy;
increases in Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), Delaware or Utah regulatory capital requirements or other support for our banks;
failure to maintain exemption from regulation under the Bank Holding Company Act;
loss or disruption, due to cyber attack or other service failures, of data center operations or capacity;
loss of consumer information due to compromised physical or cyber security; and
those factors discussed in Item 1A of this Form 10-K, elsewhere in this Form 10-K and in the documents incorporated by reference in this Form 10-K.

If one or more of these or other risks or uncertainties materialize, or if our underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect, actual results may vary materially from what we projected. Further risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the impact of strategic initiatives on us or our business if any transactions are undertaken, and whether the anticipated benefits of such transactions can be realized.

Any forward-looking statements contained in this Form 10-K speak only as of the date made, and we undertake no obligation, other than as required by applicable law, to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, subsequent events, anticipated or unanticipated circumstances or otherwise.

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PART I

Item 1.Business.

We are a leading provider of data-driven marketing, loyalty and payment solutions serving large, consumer-based industries. We create and deploy customized solutions that measurably change consumer behavior while driving business growth and profitability for some of today’s most recognizable brands. We help our partners create and increase customer loyalty across multiple touch points using traditional, digital, mobile and emerging technologies. Our LoyaltyOne® business owns and operates the AIR MILES Reward Program, Canada’s most recognized loyalty program, and Netherlands-based BrandLoyalty, a global provider of tailor-made loyalty programs for grocers. Our Card Services business is a comprehensive provider of market-leading private label, co-brand, general purpose and business credit card programs, digital payments, including Bread®, and Comenity-branded financial services.

Our client base of more than 900 companies and online merchants consists primarily of large consumer-based businesses, including well-known brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Signet, IKEA, Ulta, Caesars Entertainment, Sephora, Bank of Montreal, Amex Bank of Canada, Sobeys Inc., Shell Canada Products, Rewe and Albert Heijn. Our client base is diversified across a broad range of end-markets, including financial services, specialty retail, grocery and drugstore chains, petroleum retail, home furnishings and hardware, beauty and jewelry, hospitality and travel and telecommunications. We believe our comprehensive suite of payment and marketing solutions offers us a significant competitive advantage, as many of our competitors offer a more limited range of services. We believe the breadth and quality of our service offerings have enabled us to establish and maintain long-standing client relationships.

Business Strategy

Beginning in 2018, our board of directors undertook a series of strategic initiatives based on an evaluation of the portfolio of businesses that constituted our company. Subsequently, we completed the sale of Epsilon on July 1, 2019 and our Precima® business from the LoyaltyOne segment in January 2020. Additional initiatives to further simplify our business structure as well as focus capital on our highest earning and growth assets remain ongoing. We continue to make strategic investments in people, data management tools and digital capabilities to further improve our competitive position and drive future growth.

These investments also further our objective to make our Card Services segment the best payment and lending solution for traditional retail partners and emerging digital players, growing sales and credit card and loan receivables by making it easier for consumers to finance purchases and make payments wherever they occur— online, in store and in-app. We intend to support and grow alongside our key retail partners with leading product, digital and analytic capabilities to power their business, private label, co-brand, general purpose and business credit cards, point-of-sale lending solutions, installment products and analytical capabilities. We also intend to rebalance our portfolio, prioritizing and investing in profitable, strong performing partners, targeting core and new verticals by improving our cost base and becoming a more efficient cost provider. In addition, we expect to selectively branch into direct-to-consumer lending and payment products for existing cardholders, including debt consolidation products and proprietary credit cards for growth and value retention. We intend to be the best provider of payment solutions and credit to revolving consumers, increasing Comenity’s brand awareness without directly competing with our retail partners. In December 2020, we completed the acquisition of Lon Inc., a technology-driven digital payments company operating under the trademark Bread, offering an omnichannel solution for retailers and platform capabilities to bank partners. Bread’s offerings and on-boarding capabilities enhance the growth prospects of our Card Services’ verticals and increase the addressable market of small- and medium-sized merchants. Bread also offers our existing partners a broader digital product suite and additional white-label product solutions.

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Products and Services

Our products and services are reported under two segments—LoyaltyOne and Card Services, and are listed below. Effective March 31, 2019, our former Epsilon segment was treated as a discontinued operation, and was subsequently sold on July 1, 2019. Financial information about our segments and geographic areas appears in Note 25, “Segment Information,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Segment

Products and Services

LoyaltyOne

AIR MILES Reward Program

Short-term Loyalty Programs

Loyalty Services

—Loyalty consulting

—Customer analytics

—Creative services

—Mobile solutions

    

Card Services

Receivables Financing

—Underwriting and risk management

—Receivables funding

—Comenity CardSM

—Private label and co-brand credit card programs

—Installment lending (including buy now, pay later)

Processing Services

—New account processing

—Bill processing

—Remittance processing

—Customer care

Marketing Services

Digital Offerings

—Digital payments platform

—Enhanced Digital SuiteSM

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LoyaltyOne

Our LoyaltyOne clients are focused on acquiring and retaining loyal and profitable customers. We use the information gathered through our loyalty programs to help our clients design and implement effective marketing programs. Our clients within this segment include financial services providers, grocers, drug stores, petroleum retailers and specialty retailers. LoyaltyOne operates the AIR MILES Reward Program and BrandLoyalty.

The AIR MILES Reward Program is a full service outsourced coalition loyalty program for our sponsors, who pay us a fee per AIR MILES reward mile issued, in return for which we provide all marketing, customer service, rewards and redemption management. We typically grant participating sponsors exclusivity in their market category, enabling them to realize incremental sales and increase market share as a result of their participation in the AIR MILES Reward Program coalition.

The AIR MILES Reward Program enables consumers, referred to as collectors, to earn AIR MILES reward miles as they shop across a broad range of retailers and other sponsors participating in the AIR MILES Reward Program. These AIR MILES reward miles can be redeemed by our collectors for travel or other rewards. Through our AIR MILES Cash program option, collectors can also instantly redeem their AIR MILES reward miles collected in the AIR MILES Cash program option toward in-store purchases at participating sponsors. Approximately two-thirds of Canadian households actively participate in the AIR MILES Reward Program, and it has been named a “most influential” Canadian brand in Canada’s Ipsos Influence Index.

The three primary parties involved in our AIR MILES Reward Program are: sponsors, collectors and suppliers, each of which is described below.

Sponsors. Approximately 135 brand name sponsors participate in our AIR MILES Reward Program, including Shell Canada Products, Jean Coutu, Amex Bank of Canada, Sobeys Inc. and Bank of Montreal.

Collectors. Collectors earn AIR MILES reward miles at thousands of retail and service locations, typically including any online presence the sponsor may have. Collectors can also earn AIR MILES reward miles at the many locations where collectors can use certain credit cards issued by Bank of Montreal and Amex Bank of Canada. This enables collectors to rapidly accumulate AIR MILES reward miles across a significant portion of their everyday spend. The AIR MILES Reward Program offers a reward structure that provides a quick, easy and free way for collectors to earn a broad selection of travel, entertainment and other lifestyle rewards through their day-to-day shopping at participating sponsors.

Suppliers. We enter into agreements with airlines, manufacturers of consumer electronics, supplier platforms and other providers to supply rewards for the AIR MILES Reward Program. The broad range of rewards that can be redeemed is one of the reasons the AIR MILES Reward Program remains popular with collectors. Hundreds of brands use the AIR MILES Reward Program as an additional distribution channel for these products. Suppliers include well-recognized companies in diverse industries, including travel, hospitality, electronics and entertainment.

BrandLoyalty designs, implements, conducts and evaluates innovative and tailor-made loyalty programs for grocers worldwide. These loyalty programs are designed to generate immediate changes in consumer behavior and are offered through leading grocers across Europe and Asia, as well as around the world. These short-term loyalty programs are designed to drive traffic by attracting new customers and motivating existing customers to spend more because the reward is instant, topical and newsworthy. These programs are tailored for the specific client and are designed to reward key customer segments based on their spending levels during defined campaign periods. Rewards for these programs are sourced from, and in some cases produced by, key suppliers in advance of the programs being offered based on expected demand. Following the completion of each program, BrandLoyalty analyzes spending data to determine the grocer’s lift in market share and the program’s return on investment.

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Card Services

Our Card Services segment assists some of the best-known retailers in extending their brand through an expanding suite of payment solutions, including private label, co-brand, general purpose and business credit card programs, digital payments, including Bread, and Comenity-branded financial services that can be used by their customers in the store, or through online or catalog purchases. Our partners benefit from customer insights and analytics, with each of our credit card branded programs tailored to our partner’s brand and their unique card members.

Receivables Financing. Our Card Services segment provides risk management solutions, account origination and funding services for our more than 130 private label and co-brand credit card programs, as well as through Bread partnerships, with over 500 online merchants. In 2020, we launched our Comenity-branded general purpose cash-back credit card, an important new product for us to serve and retain our cardholders and capture incremental spend. As of December 31, 2020, we had $16.0 billion in principal receivables from 40.2 million active accounts, with an average balance for the year ended December 31, 2020 of approximately $832 for accounts with outstanding balances.

We process millions of credit card applications each year using automated proprietary scoring technology and verification procedures to make risk-based origination decisions when approving new credit card accountholders and establishing their credit limits. Credit quality is monitored at least monthly during the life of a credit card account. We augment these procedures with credit risk scores provided by credit bureaus. This information helps us segment prospects into narrower risk ranges, allowing us to better evaluate individual credit risk.

We use securitization and deposit programs as principal funding vehicles for our credit card and loan receivables. Securitizations involve the packaging and selling of both current and future receivable balances of credit card and loan receivables to a trust, which is a variable interest entity, or VIE. These VIEs are consolidated in our financial statements.

Processing Services. We perform processing services and provide service and maintenance for private label, co-brand, general purpose and business credit card programs and digital payments, including Bread. We use automated technology for bill preparation, printing and mailing, and also offer consumers the ability to view, print and pay their bills online. By doing so, we improve the funds availability for both our clients and for those credit card and loan receivables that we own or securitize. We also provide collection activities on delinquent accounts to support our programs. Our customer care operations are influenced by our retail heritage and we view every customer touch point as an opportunity to generate or reinforce a sale. Our customer care centers are equipped to handle a variety of inquiry types, including phone, mail, fax, email, text and web. We provide focused training programs in all areas to achieve the highest possible customer service standards and monitor our performance by conducting surveys with our clients and their customers. In 2020, for the fifteenth time since 2003, we were certified as a Center of Excellence for the quality of our operations, the most prestigious ranking attainable, by BenchmarkPortal. Founded by Purdue University in 1995, BenchmarkPortal is a global leader of best practices for customer care centers. In 2020, Card Services entered into an agreement to transition its credit card processing services to Fiserv, a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions. With the transition of Card Services’ core processing to Fiserv, we expect to improve our brand partner conversions and speed to market, including the ability to quickly and seamlessly add new products and capabilities that benefit our partners and cardholders. The platform enables efficient integration and use of mobile wallets and virtual cards, while supporting our data and analytics capabilities and improving operational efficiencies, with the integration and transition beginning in 2021.

Marketing Services. Through our integrated marketing services, we design and implement strategies that assist our clients in acquiring, retaining and managing valuable repeat customers. Our programs capture transaction data that we analyze to better understand consumer behavior and use to increase the effectiveness of our clients’ marketing activities. We use multi-channel marketing communication tools, including in-store, web, permission-based email, mobile messaging and direct mail to reach our clients’ customers.

Digital Offerings. In 2020, we launched our Enhanced Digital Suite, a group of marketing and credit application features to help our brand partners capitalize on the accelerated adoption of e-commerce, by bringing through more qualified applicants, a higher average purchase value, and a higher credit sales conversion rate. Enhanced Digital Suite promotes credit payment options earlier in the shopping experience and pre-screens customers in real-time, allowing for immediate credit approval without leaving the brand partner’s site.

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During 2020, we also acquired technology-driven digital payments company Lon Inc., operating under the trademark Bread, expanding Card Services’ offerings to include pay-over-time products. Our acquisition of Bread opens new opportunities to leverage our digital offerings to build both strategic technology platform partnerships and more traditional brand partnership sales and loan receivables. Bread's flexible platform and robust suite of application programming interfaces (APIs) allow merchants and partners to integrate point-of-sale financing and other digital payment products, including installment and buy now, pay later solutions. Bread’s offerings and on-boarding capabilities enhance the growth prospects of our Card Services’ verticals and increase the addressable market of small- and medium-sized merchants. At the same time, Bread offers our existing partners a broader digital product suite and additional white-label product solutions.

Disaster and Contingency Planning

We operate, either internally or through third-party service providers, multiple data processing centers to process and store our customer transaction data. Given the significant amount of data that we or our third-party service providers manage, much of which is real-time data to support our clients’ commerce initiatives, we have established redundant capabilities for our data centers. We have a number of safeguards in place that are designed to protect us from data-related risks and in the event of a disaster, to restore our data centers’ systems.

Protection of Intellectual Property and Other Proprietary Rights

We rely on a combination of copyright, trade secret and trademark laws, confidentiality procedures, contractual provisions and other similar measures to protect our proprietary information and technology used in each segment of our business. We generally enter into confidentiality or license agreements with our employees, consultants and corporate partners, and generally control access to and distribution of our technology, documentation and other proprietary information. Despite the efforts to protect our proprietary rights, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy or otherwise obtain the use of our products or technology that we consider proprietary and third parties may attempt to develop similar technology independently. We have a number of domestic and foreign patents and pending patent applications. We pursue registration and protection of our trademarks primarily in the United States and Canada, although we also have either registered trademarks or applications pending for certain marks in other countries. No individual patent or license is material to us or our segments other than that we are the exclusive Canadian licensee of the AIR MILES family of trademarks pursuant to a perpetual license agreement with Diversified Royalty Corp., for which we pay a royalty fee. We believe that the AIR MILES family of trademarks and our other trademarks are important for our branding, corporate identification and marketing of our services in each business segment.

Competition

The markets for our products and services are highly competitive. We compete with marketing services companies, financial institutions, fintechs and payment networks, as well as with the in-house staffs of our current and potential clients.

LoyaltyOne. As a provider of marketing services, our LoyaltyOne segment generally competes with advertising and other promotional and loyalty programs, both traditional and online, for a portion of a client’s total marketing budget. In addition, we compete against internally developed products and services created by our existing and potential clients. We expect competition to intensify as more competitors enter our market. Competitors may target our sponsors, clients and collectors as well as draw rewards from our rewards suppliers. Our ability to generate significant revenue from clients and loyalty partners will depend on our ability to differentiate ourselves through the products and services we provide and the attractiveness of our loyalty and rewards programs to consumers. The continued attractiveness of our loyalty and rewards programs will also depend on our ability to remain affiliated with sponsors and suppliers that are desirable to consumers and to offer rewards that are both attainable and attractive to consumers.

Card Services. Our Card Services segment competes primarily with financial institutions whose marketing focus has been on developing credit card programs with large revolving balances. These competitors further drive their businesses by cross-selling their other financial products to their cardholders. We also compete for partners on the basis of a number of factors including program financial and other terms, underwriting standards, marketing expertise, service levels, the breadth of our product and service offerings, technological and integration capabilities, brand recognition and reputation. Our focus has been on targeting specialty retailers and other brand partners that understand the competitive advantage of developing loyal customers. Typically, these partners seek customers that make more frequent but smaller

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transactions at their retail locations. As a result, we are able to analyze transaction data we obtain through managing our lending programs, including customer specific transaction data and overall consumer spending patterns, to develop and implement successful marketing strategies for our clients. As an issuer of private label retail credit cards, co-brand and Comenity general purpose, Visa®, MasterCard® and Discover® credit cards, we also compete with general purpose credit cards issued by other financial institutions, as well as cash, checks and debit cards. As the payments industry continues to evolve, in the future we expect increasing competition with emerging payment technologies from financial technology firms and payment networks. Moreover, some of our competitors, including new and emerging competitors in the digital and mobile payments space, are not subject to the same regulatory requirements or legislative scrutiny to which we are subject, which could place us at a competitive disadvantage.

Regulation

Federal and state laws and regulations extensively regulate the operations of our bank subsidiaries, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank. Many of these laws and regulations are intended to maintain the safety and soundness of Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, and they impose significant restraints to which other non-regulated companies are not subject. Because Comenity Bank is deemed a credit card bank and Comenity Capital Bank is an industrial bank within the meaning of the Bank Holding Company Act, we are not subject to regulation as a bank holding company. If we were subject to regulation as a bank holding company, we would be constrained in our operations to a limited number of activities that are closely related to banking or financial services in nature. As a state bank, Comenity Bank is subject to overlapping supervision by the FDIC and the State of Delaware; as an industrial bank, Comenity Capital Bank is subject to overlapping supervision by the FDIC and the State of Utah. Both Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank are under the supervision of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB—a federal consumer protection regulator with authority to make further changes to the federal consumer protection laws and regulations—who may, from time to time, conduct reviews of their practices.

Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must maintain minimum amounts of regulatory capital, including maintenance of certain capital ratios, paid-in capital minimums, and an appropriate allowance for loan loss, as well as meeting specific guidelines that involve measures and ratios of their assets, liabilities, regulatory capital and interest rate, among other factors. If Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank does not meet these capital requirements, their respective regulators have broad discretion to institute a number of corrective actions that could have a direct material effect on our financial statements. To pay any dividend, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must maintain adequate capital above regulatory guidelines.

We are limited under Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act in the extent to which we can borrow or otherwise obtain credit from or engage in other “covered transactions” with Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank, which may have the effect of limiting the extent to which Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank can finance or otherwise supply funds to us. “Covered transactions” include loans or extensions of credit, purchases of or investments in securities, purchases of assets, including assets subject to an agreement to repurchase, acceptance of securities as collateral for a loan or extension of credit, or the issuance of a guarantee, acceptance, or letter of credit. Although the applicable rules do not serve as an outright bar on engaging in “covered transactions,” they do require that we engage in “covered transactions” with Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank only on terms and under circumstances that are substantially the same, or at least as favorable to Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank, as those prevailing at the time for comparable transactions with nonaffiliated companies. Furthermore, with certain exceptions, each loan or extension of credit by Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank to us or our other affiliates must be secured by collateral with a market value ranging from 100% to 130% of the amount of the loan or extension of credit, depending on the type of collateral.

We are required to monitor and report unusual or suspicious account activity as well as transactions involving amounts in excess of prescribed limits under the Bank Secrecy Act, Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, rules, and other regulations. Congress, the IRS and the bank regulators have focused their attention on banks’ monitoring and reporting of suspicious activities. Additionally, Congress and the bank regulators have proposed, adopted or passed a number of new laws and regulations that may increase reporting obligations of banks. We are also subject to numerous laws and regulations that are intended to protect consumers, including state laws, the Truth in Lending Act, as amended by the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or the CARD Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act. These laws and regulations mandate various disclosure requirements and regulate the manner in which we may interact with consumers. These and other laws also limit finance charges or other fees or charges earned in our lending activities. We conduct our operations in a manner that we believe excludes us from

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regulation as a consumer reporting agency under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If we were deemed a consumer reporting agency, however, we would be subject to a number of additional complex regulatory requirements and restrictions.

Data protection and consumer privacy laws and regulations continue to evolve, increasing restrictions on our ability to collect and disseminate customer information. In addition, the enactment of new or amended legislation or industry regulations pertaining to consumer, public or private sector privacy issues may impact our marketing services, including placing restrictions upon the collection, sharing and use of information that is currently legally available. There are also a number of specific laws and regulations governing the collection and use of certain types of consumer data primarily in connection with financial services transactions that are relevant to our various businesses and services. In the United States, federal laws such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or GLBA, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, as well as similar and applicable state laws, make it more difficult to collect, share and use information that has previously been legally available and may increase our costs of collecting some data. These laws give bank customers, including cardholders and depositors, the ability to “opt out” of having certain information generated by their applicable financial services transactions shared with other affiliated and unaffiliated parties or the public. Our ability to gather, share and utilize this data will be adversely affected if a significant percentage of the consumers whose purchasing behavior we track elect to “opt out,” thereby precluding us and our affiliates from using their data.

In the United States, the federal Do-Not-Call Implementation Act makes it more difficult to telephonically communicate with prospective and existing customers. Similar measures were implemented in Canada beginning September 1, 2008. Regulations in both the United States and Canada give consumers the ability to “opt out,” through a national do-not-call registry and state do-not-call registries, of having telephone solicitations placed to them by companies that do not have an existing business relationship with the consumer. In addition, regulations require companies to maintain an internal do-not-call list for those who do not want the companies to solicit them through telemarketing. These regulations could limit our ability to provide services and information to our clients. Failure to comply with these regulations could have a negative impact on our reputation and subject us to significant penalties. Further, the Federal Communications Commission has approved interpretations of rules related to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act defining robo-calls broadly, which may affect our ability to contact customers and may increase our litigation exposure.

In the United States, the federal Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 restricts our ability to send commercial electronic mail messages, the primary purpose of which is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service, to our customers and prospective customers. The act requires that a commercial electronic mail message provide the customers with an opportunity to opt-out from receiving future commercial electronic mail messages from the sender.

In the United States, California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, which went into effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA provides individual privacy rights for California consumers and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling certain personal data of consumers and households. The CCPA requires disclosures to consumers about companies’ data collection, use and sharing practices; provides consumers ways to opt-out of certain sales or transfers of personal information; and provides consumers with additional causes of action. The CCPA prohibits companies from discriminating against consumers who have opted out of the sale of their personal information, subject to a narrow exception. The CCPA provides for certain monetary penalties and for enforcement of the statute by the California Attorney General or by consumers whose rights under the law are not observed. It also provides for damages, as well as injunctive or declaratory relief, if there has been unauthorized access, theft or disclosure of personal information due to failure to implement reasonable security procedures. The CCPA contains several exemptions, including a provision to the effect that the CCPA does not apply where the information is collected, processed, sold or disclosed pursuant to the GLBA if the GLBA is in conflict with the CCPA.

In November 2020, California voters passed Proposition 24, known as the California Privacy Rights Act or CPRA. CPRA, which will amend existing CCPA requirements effective January 2023 with a one-year lookback period, includes limitations on the sharing of personal information for cross-context behavioral advertising and the use of “sensitive” personal information; the creation of a new correction right; and the establishment of a new agency to enforce California privacy law.

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Further, there continues to be an increased interest in privacy laws at the federal and state levels where legislators are reviewing or proposing the need for greater regulation of the collection, processing, sharing and use of consumer data for marketing purposes or otherwise, including two federal privacy regulations introduced in late 2020.

In Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA, requires an organization to obtain a consumer’s consent to collect, use or disclose personal information. Under this act, consumer personal information may be used only for the purposes for which it was collected. We allow our customers to voluntarily “opt out” from receiving either one or both promotional and marketing mail or promotional and marketing electronic mail. Heightened consumer awareness of, and concern about, privacy may result in customers “opting out” at higher rates than they have historically. This would mean that a reduced number of customers would receive bonus and promotional offers and therefore those customers may collect fewer AIR MILES reward miles. The Government of Canada has created a Digital Charter providing new rights and expectations, including expected changes to PIPEDA.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, or CASL, may restrict our ability to send “commercial electronic messages,” defined to include text, sound, voice and image messages to email, or similar accounts, where the primary purpose is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service to our customers and prospective customers. CASL requires, in part, that a sender have consent to send a commercial electronic message, and provide the customers with an opportunity to opt out from receiving future commercial electronic email messages from the sender.

On May 25, 2018, The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, a European Union-wide legal framework to govern data collection, use and sharing and related consumer privacy rights came into force. The GDPR replaced the European Union Directive 95/46/EC and applies to and binds the EU Member States and the European Economic Area countries, which includes a total of 30 countries. The GDPR details greater compliance obligations on organizations, including the implementation of a number of processes and policies around data collection and use. These, and other terms of the GDPR, could limit our ability to provide services and information to our customers. In addition, the GDPR includes significant penalties for non-compliance.

In general, GDPR, and other European Union and Member State specific privacy and data governance laws, could also lead to adaptation of our technologies or practices to satisfy local privacy requirements and standards that may be more stringent than in the U.S. Similarly, it is possible that in the future, U.S. and foreign jurisdictions may adopt legislation or regulations that impair our ability to effectively track consumers’ use of our advertising services, such as the FTC’s proposed “Do-Not-Track” standard or other legislation or regulations similar to EU Directive 2009/136/EC, commonly referred to as the “Cookie Directive,” which directs EU Member States to ensure that accessing personal information on an internet user’s computer, such as through a cookie, is allowed only if the internet user has given his or her consent. In July 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union, or CJEU, ruled the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework invalid, but noted the use of standard contractual clauses for data transfers is still valid. On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union and entered into a Brexit transition period. Effective January 1, 2021, the EU and UK have adopted a new agreement providing that all transfers of personal data between stakeholders subject to GDPR and UK entities will not be considered as transfers to a third country provided that the UK’s current data protection scheme stays in place for the designated maximum period of six months through June 30, 2021. It is not yet known what the data protection landscape will look like at the end of the transition period.

In addition to the jurisdictions noted above, there is also rapid development of new privacy laws and regulations elsewhere around the globe, including amendments of existing data protection laws, to the scope of such laws and penalties for noncompliance. Failure to comply with these international data protection laws and regulations could have a negative impact on our reputation and subject us to significant penalties.

While all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted data breach notification laws, there is no such U.S. federal law generally applicable to our businesses. Data breach notification legislation and regulations relating to mandatory reporting came into force in Canada on November 1, 2018. Data breach notification laws have been proposed widely and exist in other specific countries and jurisdictions in which we conduct business. Legislative and regulatory measures, such as mandatory breach notification provisions, impose, among other elements, strict requirements on reporting time frames and providing notice to individuals.

We also have systems and processes to comply with the USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001, which is designed to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.

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Ontario’s Protecting Rewards Points Act (Consumer Protection Amendment), 2016, and additional related regulations, prohibit suppliers from entering into or amending consumer agreements to provide for the expiry of rewards points due to the passage of time alone, while permitting the expiry of rewards points if the underlying consumer agreement is terminated and that agreement provides that reward points expire upon termination. Similar legislation pertaining to the expiry of rewards points due to the passage of time alone is also in effect in Quebec.

Human Capital

As of December 31, 2020, we employed approximately 8,000 associates worldwide, with the majority concentrated in the United States and Canada. Our key human capital management objectives are to attract, develop and retain top talent. To support these objectives, we take a holistic approach to our associates’ experience as an employee, recognizing that an engaged workforce drives our long-term growth and sustainability. Our board of directors and designated committees provide the important oversight of our human capital management strategy, including diversity, equity and inclusion, or DE&I, efforts, which are led by our global senior vice president of human resources. The board of directors and relevant committees receive regular updates on human capital trends and developments from senior management and third-party consultants on key human capital matters that drive our ongoing success and performance.

With COVID-19 impacting the majority of 2020, we adapted to support and empower our associates throughout the significant transformation of their work experience. In March 2020, approximately 95% of our total workforce successfully transitioned to working from home with minimal business disruption. Numerous initiatives designed to connect, recognize and engage our workforce in a virtual work environment were implemented, including providing the necessary new technology, support and lines of communications for our associates to be successful in their roles in this unique environment. Recognizing the importance of health and wellbeing on an associate’s ability to do their best work, we provided timely reminders and access to numerous existing and new resources and support, including mental health awareness and counselling, financial education and wellness courses; a variety of online fitness and meditation classes, a fitness cost reimbursement program and other benefits to promote mental and physical health, and overall wellbeing.

Additionally during 2020, we took steps to improve the competitiveness of our associate benefits including a comprehensive review and update of associate and executive compensation and bonus structures, the addition of new paid holidays and improved parental leave plans.

Despite various challenges associated with the pandemic, we maintained high levels of associate engagement and retention as well as success with talent acquisition, hiring several top industry leaders in key positions that further supported our transformation initiatives and business priorities. For 2020, we recorded a new associate acquisition rate of approximately 10%, calculated as total external hires divided by average associate headcount, with voluntary turnover at approximately 13%, calculated as total voluntary terminations divided by average associate headcount, across both professional and care center operations. During 2020, the recruitment team focused on reducing geographic barriers in the talent acquisition process, yielding a greater talent pool to fill roles that require specific skills in the competitive market.

As part of our broader multi-year business transformation, we formed a “future workforce” steering committee comprised of senior human resources, technology and operations management to develop and execute human capital-intensive strategies to ensure our workforce readiness. New initiatives intended to attract talent, as well as maintain engaged, equipped and empowered associates, include “talent mobility” strategies designed to identify, nurture and grow promising talent in existing channels and identifying cross-functional or non-traditional opportunities for career growth and advancement. Robust training and development remains central to our human capital strategy. Due to the pandemic, all learning and development courses were moved to a virtual environment, which increased the rate of associate participation. In addition to career-oriented training and development, we require certain annual associate training to ensure ongoing adherence to responsible business practices and ethical conduct.

In 2020, we undertook significant steps to improve our commitment to DE&I, starting with a formal process initiated by our president and Chief Executive Officer. Specific actions taken have included executive leadership involvement and accountability; and formation of a DE&I steering committee with clear objectives, including identifying and engaging a third-party, minority-owned DE&I consulting firm to guide our development of a comprehensive, integrated DE&I strategy and measurement framework. Significant progress made over the back half of 2020 includes associate surveys, focus groups and numerous associate “listening sessions” to provide important input on

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our approach to improving our long-term DE&I commitments. Our entire executive leadership team underwent unconscious bias awareness training, and new tools were introduced in our recruiting and hiring practices to further improve our processes in this area. As of December 31, 2020, approximately 62% of our total work force and 44% of our senior leaders were female, while approximately 43% of our total work force and 16% of our senior leaders were minorities.

Other Information

Our corporate headquarters are located at 3075 Loyalty Circle, Columbus, Ohio 43219, where our telephone number is 614-729-4000.

We file or furnish annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. Our SEC filings are available to the public at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. You may also obtain copies of our annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and certain other information filed or furnished with the SEC, as well as amendments thereto, free of charge from our website, www.AllianceData.com. No information from this website is incorporated by reference herein. These documents are posted to our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we have filed or furnished these documents with the SEC. We post our audit committee, compensation committee and nominating and corporate governance committee charters, our corporate governance guidelines, and our code of ethics, code of ethics for senior financial officers, and code of ethics for board members on our website. These documents are available free of charge to any stockholder upon request.

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Item 1A.

Risk Factors.

RISK FACTORS

Summary

The following summary of our principal risks provides an overview of the inherent uncertainty investing in us presents. This summary is qualified in its entirety by reference to the complete description of our risk factors set forth immediately below. With regard to strategic business risks and our competitive environment, we caution that the impacts of COVID-19 on the macroeconomic environment will continue to heighten all of our risks for an indeterminate duration.

Risks related to our strategic business and competitive environment include client concentration, new credit loss profiles, charge-off experience, fraudulent activity, competition for new business, and changes in consumer behavior.

Our ten largest clients represented nearly half of our consolidated revenue in 2020.
Underwriting performance of acquired or new lending programs may not be consistent with existing experience.
Unsecured consumer and business lending leads to losses from bankruptcies and inability to collect from borrowers.
Access to credit provides the opportunity for fraudulent activity.
Opportunities to grow our business may be limited by aggressive pricing or capital-intensive regulatory requirements.
Loss of clients or business by our brand partners or changes in collector redemption amounts or patterns may reduce both growth and profitability.

Risks related to our liquidity, market and credit risk include difficulties accessing capital or equity markets due to macroeconomic or other factors, competition for funding sources, regulatory restrictions, high levels of indebtedness, limitations imposed by existing indebtedness and market interest and exchange rates.

Inability to effectively access the securitization or other capital markets limits our funding opportunities for receivables and other business opportunities.
Competition for deposits and regulatory restrictions on deposit products can impact availability and cost of funds.
High levels of indebtedness restrict our ability to compete and grow our business.
Fluctuations in interest rates impact our profitability while volatility in foreign exchange rates impacts our financial results.
Our market valuation has been volatile, and returns to stockholders have been impacted by a lower dividend rate, cessation of share repurchase programs and issuance of shares for acquisitions.

Risks related to our regulatory environment include existing and potential limitations on various aspects of our business model as a non-Bank holding company.

Regulations promulgated by the FDIC, CFPB and other federal and state authorities, limit the products and services our banks offer and the manner in which they do.
Consumer protection, data protection and data privacy laws restrict functionality that enhances loyalty and marketing program capabilities.
Financial institution capital requirements may limit cash available for business operations, growth and returns to stockholders.
Failure to remain exempt from the Bank Holding Company Act would further limit business opportunities, requiring us to cease all non-banking activities. Inability to effectively access the securitization or other capital markets limits our funding opportunities for credit card and loan receivables and other business opportunities.

Risks related to our operations and other considerations include reliance on third party providers, potential for data breach or other service failures, exposure to both complex and underdeveloped global legal and regulatory systems and strategic restrictions.

Reliance on third-party vendors and current efforts to transition to multiple strategic outsourcing partners may result in service failures outside our control.
Failures in data protection, cyber and information security and intellectual property rights could critically impair our products, services and ability to conduct business.
Complex international laws as well as operating in jurisdictions lacking developed regulatory and legal systems requires extensive effort to manage compliance.
Our charter documents and Delaware law both restrict certain strategic activity that may be beneficial to our stockholders.

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Strategic Business Risk and Competitive Environment

Impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to continue to pose risks to our business for the foreseeable future, heighten many of our known risks and may have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity.

In the first quarter of 2020, the WHO declared the current coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak to be a global pandemic. In response to this declaration and the rapid spread of COVID-19, international, provincial, federal, state and local government or other authorities have instituted certain preventative measures, including border closures, travel bans, prohibitions on group events and gatherings, shutdowns or other operational restrictions on certain businesses, curfews, shelter-in-place orders, quarantines and recommendations to practice social distancing. Certain jurisdictions have begun reopening only to return to more stringent restrictions where increases in COVID-19 cases occur. These restrictions have continued to disrupt economic activity worldwide, resulting in volatility in the global capital markets, instability in the credit and financial markets, reduced commercial and consumer confidence and spending, widespread furloughs and layoffs, closure or restricted operating conditions for retail stores, labor shortages, regulatory recommendations to provide relief for impacted consumer borrowers and depositors, disruption in supply chains (including availability of raw materials, ability to manufacture goods and delivery of finished products to suppliers and retailers), and near complete cessation of many hospitality and travel industry operations. Even as vaccines are introduced and administered, governmental restrictions are lifted and economies gradually reopen, the ongoing economic impacts, including government economic stimulus, and health concerns associated with the pandemic and the availability and efficacy of those vaccines, may continue to affect consumer behavior, spending levels and retail preferences.

Specific impacts on our operations and financial results include, but are not limited to, the following:

Short and long-term difficulties of our retail partners in consumer-based businesses due to restricted foot traffic, any inability to convert in-store sales to e-commerce, trouble maintaining supply chain integrity for both availability of desired products and delivery to end consumers, and reduced consumer confidence and spending may result in increased bankruptcy risk for our retail partners, decreased retail credit sales and decreases in our credit card and loan receivables balances.
Decreased retail credit sales reduces the usage of our private label and co-brand credit cards and installment lending platform, which reduces our revenue from finance charges and other servicing fees.
Rising unemployment, the potential for rising consumer bankruptcies and the expectation that we will offer, for a temporary period of time, forbearance programs for impacted cardholders both reduces or delays our revenue from finance charges and other servicing fees and increases our exposure to rising delinquencies, net charge-offs in credit card and loan receivables and increases to our allowance for loan loss.
Deferral of short-term loyalty programs or the inability to source or deliver rewards for these programs across borders may reduce or defer revenue or increase our costs of operations.
Reduced demand for hospitality, airline and other travel-related rewards within our AIR MILES Reward Program due to the various COVID-19 restrictions negatively impacts redemption revenue as collectors both changed existing reward travel and are unable to schedule future reward travel with any certainty as to the duration of restrictions.
Volatility in the financial markets may increase our cost of capital and/or limit its availability, and prolonged periods of increased financial stress enhance the potential for a rating downgrade on our asset-backed debt, the occurrence of early amortization events as well as non-compliance with financial covenants or other events of default across our significant asset-backed and other indebtedness.
Increased operational risk, including impacts to our data, customer care center, digital and installment lending platform and other network integrity and availability in addition to heightened cybercriminal activity and other payment fraud risk in this environment of e-commerce and online banking reliance, may affect our ability to timely and effectively meet the needs of our clients, cardholders, collectors or other consumers across our lines of business.

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Increased risks to the health and safety of our associates and that of our third-party vendors may impact our ability to maintain service levels for our partners.

Despite the emergence of vaccines, surges in COVID-19 cases, including variants of the strain, such as those recently experienced in Europe and the United States, may cause people to self-quarantine or governments to shut down nonessential businesses again. Given the dynamic nature of this situation, we cannot reasonably estimate the impacts of COVID-19 on our future results of operations or cash flows at this time. To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, many of the other risks described in the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report may also be heightened.

Our 10 largest clients represented 48% and 44%, respectively, of our consolidated revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, and the loss of any of these clients could cause a significant drop in our revenue.

We depend on a limited number of large clients for a significant portion of our consolidated revenue. Our 10 largest clients represented approximately 48% and 44%, respectively, of our consolidated revenue during the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019. L Brands and its retail affiliates represented approximately 10% and 11% of our consolidated revenue during these same respective periods. Our contract with L Brands and its retail affiliates expires in 2026, subject to contract terms. A decrease in revenue from any of our significant clients for any reason, including a decrease in pricing or activity, or a decision either to utilize another service provider or to no longer outsource some or all of the services we provide, could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated revenue.

We expect growth in our Card Services segment to result from new and acquired credit card and other installment lending programs whose credit card and loan receivables performance could result in increased portfolio losses and negatively impact our profitability.

We expect an important source of growth in our Card Services segment to come from the acquisition of existing credit card programs and initiating credit card and other installment lending programs with retailers and other merchants who either do not currently offer a private label or co-brand credit card or are initiating or transitioning from another installment lending platform. Although we believe our pricing and models for determining credit risk are designed to evaluate the credit risk of existing programs and the credit risk we are willing to assume for acquired and start-up programs, we cannot be assured that the loss experience on acquired and start-up programs will be consistent with our more established programs. The failure to successfully underwrite these new or acquired credit card or installment lending programs may result in defaults greater than our expectations and could have a material adverse impact on us and our profitability.

Increases in net charge-offs could have a negative impact on our net income and profitability.

The primary risk associated with unsecured consumer lending is the risk of default or bankruptcy of the borrower, resulting in the borrower’s balance being charged-off as uncollectible. We rely principally on the borrower’s creditworthiness for repayment of the loan and therefore have no other recourse for collection. We may not be able to successfully identify and evaluate the creditworthiness of borrowers to minimize delinquencies and losses. An increase in defaults or net charge-offs could result in a reduction in net income. General economic factors, such as the rate of inflation, unemployment levels and interest rates, may result in greater delinquencies that lead to greater credit losses. In addition to being affected by general economic conditions and the success of our collection and recovery efforts, the stability of our delinquency and net charge-off rates are affected by the credit risk of our credit card and loan receivables and the average age of our various credit card account portfolios. Further, our pricing strategy may not offset the negative impact on profitability caused by increases in delinquencies and losses, thus any material increases in delinquencies and losses beyond our current estimates could have a material adverse impact on us. For 2020, our net charge-off rate was 6.6%, compared to 6.1% and 6.1% for 2019 and 2018, respectively. Delinquency rates were 4.4% of principal credit card and loan receivables at December 31, 2020, compared to 5.8% at December 31, 2019.

Fraudulent activity associated with our products and services could negatively impact our operating results, brand and reputation and cause the use of our products and services to decrease and our fraud losses to increase.

We are subject to the risk of fraudulent activity associated with retailers, clients, other merchant parties or third-party service providers handling consumer information. Our fraud-related operational losses were $140.8 million, $194.7 million and $144.9 million for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Our products are

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susceptible to application fraud, because among other things, we provide immediate access to credit at the time of approval. In addition, digital sales on the internet and through mobile channels are becoming a larger part of our business and fraudulent activity is higher as a percentage of sales in those channels than in stores. Private label and general purpose co-branded credit cards are susceptible to different types of fraud, and, depending on our product channel mix, we may continue to experience variations in, or levels of, fraud-related expense that are different from or higher than that experienced by some of our competitors or the industry generally. The risk of fraud continues to increase for the financial services industry, and credit card fraud, identity theft and related crimes are likely to continue to be prevalent, with perpetrators increasingly sophisticated. Our resources, technologies and fraud prevention tools may be insufficient to accurately detect and prevent fraud. High profile fraudulent activity could also negatively impact our brand and reputation, which could negatively impact the use of our services, leading to a material adverse effect on our results of operations. In addition, significant increases in fraudulent activity could lead to regulatory intervention, including, but not limited to, additional consumer notification requirements, increasing our costs and negatively impacting our operating results, net income and profitability.

A new accounting standard required us to increase our allowance for loan loss and may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and opportunity to pursue new business.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board has adopted a new accounting standard that became effective for us January 1, 2020. This standard, referred to as Current Expected Credit Loss, or CECL, requires us to determine periodic estimates of lifetime expected credit losses on loans, and recognize the expected credit losses as allowances for loan loss. The adoption of this standard resulted in an increase in our allowance for loan loss of $644.0 million. For additional information regarding the impact of the adoption of CECL, see “Recently Issued Accounting Standards” under Note 2, “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements. The ongoing impact of CECL will be significantly influenced by the composition, characteristics and quality of our credit card and loan portfolio, as well as the prevailing economic conditions and forecasts utilized. The CECL model may create more volatility in the level of our allowance for loan loss. If we are required to materially increase our level of allowance for loan loss, such increase could adversely affect or our business, financial condition, results of operations and opportunity to pursue new business.

If we fail to identify suitable acquisitions, dispositions or new business opportunities, or to effectively integrate the businesses we acquire or disaggregate the businesses we divest, it could negatively affect our business.

We believe that acquisitions and the identification and pursuit of new business opportunities will be a key component of our growth strategy. However, we may not be able to locate and secure future acquisition candidates or to identify and implement new business opportunities on terms and conditions that are acceptable to us. If we are unable to identify attractive acquisition candidates or accretive new business opportunities, our growth could be limited.

Similarly, we may evaluate the potential disposition of, or elect to divest, assets or businesses that no longer complement our long-term strategic objectives. When a determination is made to divest assets or businesses, we may encounter difficulty attaining buyers or effecting desired exit strategies in a timely manner or on acceptable terms and may be subject to market forces leading to a divestiture on less than optimal price or other terms.

In addition, there are numerous risks associated with acquisitions, dispositions and the implementation of new businesses, including, but not limited to:

the difficulty and expense that we incur in connection with the acquisition, disposition or new business opportunity;
the inability to satisfy pre-closing conditions preventing consummation of the acquisition, disposition or new business opportunity;
the potential for adverse consequences when conforming the acquired company’s accounting policies to ours;
the diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns;
the potential loss of customers or key employees of the acquired company;
the impact on our financial condition due to the timing of the acquisition, disposition or new business implementation or the failure of the acquired or new business to meet operating expectations;

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the acceptance of continued financial responsibility with respect to a divested business, including required equity ownership, guarantees, indemnities or other financial obligations;
the assumption of unknown liabilities of the acquired company;
the uncertainty of achieving expected benefits of an acquisition or disposition, including revenue, human resources, technological or other cost savings, operating efficiencies or synergies;
the reduction of cash available for operations, stock repurchase programs or other uses and potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities or incurrence of additional debt;
the requirement to provide transition services in connection with a disposition resulting in the diversion of resources and focus; and
the difficulty retaining and motivating key personnel from acquisitions or in connection with dispositions.

For example, upon the disposition of Epsilon in July 2019, we agreed to indemnify Publicis Groupe S.A. for the matter included in Note 18, “Commitments and Contingencies,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, which to date has resulted in a $150.0 million loss contingency associated with Epsilon’s deferred prosecution agreement with the United States Department of Justice requiring two $75.0 million payments in January 2021 and January 2022, respectively.

Furthermore, if the operations of an acquired or new business do not meet expectations, our profitability may decline and we may seek to restructure the acquired business or to impair the value of some or all of the assets of the acquired or new business.

If actual redemptions by AIR MILES Reward Program collectors are greater than expected, or if the costs related to redemption of AIR MILES reward miles increase, our profitability could be adversely affected.

A portion of our revenue is based on our estimate of the number of AIR MILES reward miles that will go unused by the collector base. The percentage of AIR MILES reward miles not expected to be redeemed is known as “breakage.”

Breakage is based on management’s estimate after viewing and analyzing various historical trends including vintage analysis, current run rates and other pertinent factors, such as the impact of macroeconomic factors and changes in the program structure, the introduction of new program options and changes to rewards offered. Any significant change in or failure by management to reasonably estimate breakage, or if actual redemptions are greater than our estimates, our profitability could be adversely affected.

Our AIR MILES Reward Program also exposes us to risks arising from potentially increasing reward costs. Our profitability could be adversely affected if costs related to redemption of AIR MILES reward miles increase. A 10% increase in the cost of redemptions would have resulted in a decrease in pre-tax income of $21.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2020.

The loss of our most active AIR MILES Reward Program collectors could adversely affect our growth and profitability.

Our most active AIR MILES Reward Program collectors drive a disproportionately large percentage of our AIR MILES Reward Program revenue. The loss of a significant portion of these collectors, for any reason, could impact our ability to generate significant revenue from sponsors. The continued attractiveness of our loyalty and rewards programs will depend in large part on our ability to remain affiliated with sponsors that are desirable to collectors and to offer rewards that are both attainable and attractive.

Airline or travel industry disruptions, such as an airline insolvency, could negatively affect the AIR MILES Reward Program, our revenues and profitability.

Air travel is one of the appeals of the AIR MILES Reward Program to collectors. If one of our existing airline suppliers sharply reduces its fleet capacity and route network, we may not be able to satisfy our collectors’ demands for airline tickets. Tickets or other travel arrangements, if available, could be more expensive than a comparable airline ticket under our current supply agreements with existing suppliers, and the routes offered by other airlines or travel services may be inadequate, inconvenient or undesirable to the redeeming collectors. As a result, we may experience

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higher air travel redemption costs, and collector satisfaction with the AIR MILES Reward Program might be adversely affected.

As a result of airline or travel industry disruptions, including, but not limited to, the current impacts of COVID-19, political instability, terrorist acts or war, some collectors could determine that air travel is too dangerous or burdensome. Consequently, collectors might forego redeeming AIR MILES reward miles for air travel and therefore might not participate in the AIR MILES Reward Program to the extent they previously did, which could adversely affect our revenue from the program.

The markets for the services that we offer may contract or fail to expand and competition in our industries is intense, each of which could negatively impact our growth and profitability.

The markets for our products and services are highly competitive and we expect the continued evolution of financial and loyalty products and services and competition to provide the same to intensify in each of those markets. Our growth and continued profitability depend on continued acceptance or adoption of the products and services that we offer. Some of our current competitors have longer operating histories, stronger brand names and greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we do. Our clients may not continue to use the financial products and services, or loyalty programs that we offer. Changes in technology may enable merchants and retail companies to directly process transactions in a cost-efficient manner without the use of our services. Additionally, downturns in the economy or the performance of retailers, including the impact of COVID-19, may result in a decrease in the demand for our products and services. Our ability to generate significant revenue from clients and partners will depend on our ability to differentiate ourselves through the products and services we provide and the attractiveness of our programs to consumers. We may not be able to continue to compete successfully against our current and emerging competitors. Any decrease in the demand for our products and services for the reasons discussed above or any other reasons could have a material adverse effect on our growth, revenue and operating results.

Liquidity, Market and Credit Risk

If we are unable to securitize our credit card and loan receivables due to changes in the market, we may not be able to fund new credit card receivables, which would have a negative impact on our operations and profitability.

A number of factors affect our ability to fund our credit card and loan receivables in the securitization market, some of which are beyond our control, including:

conditions in the securities markets in general and the asset-backed securitization market in particular;
conformity in the quality of our credit card receivables to rating agency requirements and changes in that quality or those requirements; and
ability to fund required overcollateralizations or credit enhancements, which are routinely utilized in order to achieve better credit ratings to lower borrowing cost.

In addition, on August 27, 2014, the SEC adopted a number of rules that changed the disclosure, reporting and offering process for publicly registered offerings of asset-backed securities, including those offered under our credit card securitization program. The adopted rules finalize rules that were originally proposed on April 7, 2010 and re-proposed on July 26, 2011. A number of rules proposed by the SEC in 2010 and 2011, such as requiring group-level data for the underlying assets in credit card securitizations, were not adopted in the final rulemaking but may be adopted by the SEC in the future with or without further modifications. The adoption of further rules affecting disclosure, reporting and the offering process for publicly registered offerings of asset-backed securities may impact our ability or desire to issue asset-backed securities in the future.

Regulations adopted by the FDIC, the SEC, the Federal Reserve and certain other federal regulators mandate a minimum five percent risk retention requirement for securitizations issued on and after December 24, 2016. Such risk retention requirements may limit our liquidity by restricting the amount of asset-backed securities we are able to issue or affecting the timing of future issuances of asset-backed securities; we satisfy such risk retention requirements by maintaining a seller’s interest calculated in accordance with Regulation RR.

Early amortization events may occur as a result of certain adverse events specified for each asset-backed securitization transaction, including, among others, deteriorating asset performance or material servicing defaults. In

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addition, certain series of funding securities issued by our securitization trusts are subject to early amortization based on triggers relating to the bankruptcy of one or more retailers. Deteriorating economic conditions and increased competition in the retail industry, among other factors, may lead to an increase in bankruptcies among retailers who have entered into credit card programs with us. The bankruptcy of one or more retailers could lead to a decline in the amount of new receivables and could lead to increased delinquencies and defaults on the associated receivables. Any of these effects of a retailer bankruptcy could result in the commencement of an early amortization for one or more series of such funding securities, particularly if such an event were to occur with respect to a retailer relating to a large percentage of such securitization trust’s assets. The occurrence of an early amortization event may significantly limit our ability to securitize additional receivables.

As a result of Basel III, which refers generally to a set of regulatory reforms adopted in the U.S. and internationally that are meant to address issues that arose in the banking sector during the 2008-2010 financial crisis, banks have become subject to more stringent capital, liquidity and leverage requirements. In response to Basel III, investors of our securitization trusts’ funding securities have sought and obtained amendments to their respective transaction documents permitting them to delay disbursement of funding increases by up to 35 days. Although funding may be requested from other investors who have not delayed their funding, access to financing could be disrupted if all of the investors implement such delays or if the lending capacities of those who did not do so were insufficient to make up the shortfall. In addition, excess spread may be affected if the issuing entity’s borrowing costs increase as a result of Basel III. Such cost increases may result, for example, because the investors are entitled to indemnification for increased costs resulting from such regulatory changes.

The inability to securitize card receivables due to changes in the market, regulatory proposals, the unavailability of credit enhancements, or any other circumstance or event would have a material adverse effect on our operations and profitability.

Inability to grow our deposits in the future could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, ability to grow our business and profitability.

We obtain deposits directly from retail and commercial customers or through brokerage firms that offer our deposit products to their customers. Our funding strategy includes continued growth of our liquidity through deposits. The deposit business continues to experience intense competition in attracting and retaining deposits. We compete on the basis of the rates we pay on deposits, the quality of our customer service and the competitiveness of our digital banking capabilities. Our ability to originate and maintain retail deposits remains highly dependent on the strength of our bank subsidiaries, the reputability of our business practices and our financial health. Adverse perceptions regarding our lending practices, regulatory compliance, protection of customer information or sales and marketing practices, or actions taken by regulators or others with respect to our bank subsidiaries, could impede our competitive position in the deposits market.

The demand for the deposit products we offer may also be reduced due to a variety of factors, including changes in consumers’ preferences, demographics or discretionary income, regulatory actions that decrease consumer access to particular products or the development or availability of competing products. Competition from other financial services firms and others that use deposit funding products may affect deposit renewal rates, costs or availability. Adjustments we make to the rates offered on our deposit products to remain competitive may adversely affect conversely our liquidity or our profitability.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Act, or FDIA, prohibits an insured bank from accepting brokered deposits or offering interest rates on any deposits significantly higher than the prevailing rate in the bank’s normal market area or nationally (depending upon where the deposits are solicited), unless it is “well capitalized,” or it is “adequately capitalized” and receives a waiver from the FDIC. A bank that is “adequately capitalized” and accepts brokered deposits under a waiver from the FDIC may not pay an interest rate on any deposit in excess of 75 basis points over certain prevailing market rates. There are no such restrictions under the FDIA on a bank that is “well capitalized” and at December 31, 2020, each of our bank subsidiaries met or exceeded all applicable requirements to be deemed “well capitalized” for purposes of the FDIA. However, there can be no assurance that our bank subsidiaries will continue to meet those requirements. Limitations on our bank subsidiaries’ ability to accept brokered deposits for any reason (including regulatory limitations on the amount of brokered deposits in total or as a percentage of total assets) in the future could materially adversely impact our liquidity, funding costs and profitability. For example, effective April 21, 2021, with an extended compliance date of January 1, 2022, the FDIC amended its regulations relating to the brokered deposits and interest rate restrictions

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that apply to “less than well capitalized” insured depository institutions, including (1) providing a new framework for analyzing certain provisions of the “deposit broker” definition with respect to “facilitating” and “primary purpose” to narrow the categories of deposits that may be deemed brokered; and (2) for the interest rate restrictions, amending its methodology for calculating the national rate, the national rate cap, and the local market rate cap, in each case, to account for economic cycles and differing deposits products offered. Any limitation on the interest rates our bank subsidiaries can pay on deposits may competitively disadvantage us in attracting and retaining deposits, resulting in a material adverse effect on our business.

At December 31, 2020, we had $9.8 billion in deposits, with approximately $3.8 billion in money market deposits that are redeemable on demand and approximately $6.0 billion in certificates of deposit.

Our level of indebtedness could materially adversely affect our ability to generate sufficient cash to repay our outstanding debt, our ability to react to changes in our business and our ability to incur additional indebtedness to fund future needs.

We have a high level of indebtedness, which requires a high level of interest and principal payments. Subject to the limits contained in our credit agreement, the indentures governing our senior notes and our other debt instruments, we may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness from time to time to finance working capital, capital expenditures, investments or acquisitions, or for other purposes. If we do so, the risks related to our level of indebtedness could intensify. Our level of indebtedness increases the possibility that we may be unable to generate cash sufficient to pay, when due, the principal of, interest on or other amounts due in respect of our indebtedness. Our higher level of indebtedness, combined with our other financial obligations and contractual commitments, could:

make it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our indebtedness, and any failure to comply with the obligations under any of our debt instruments, including restrictive covenants, could result in an event of default under our credit agreement, the indentures governing our senior notes and the agreements governing our other indebtedness;
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing funds available for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or other new business and other corporate purposes;
increase our vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions, which could place us at a competitive disadvantage or require us to dispose of assets to raise funds if needed for working capital;
limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industries in which we operate;
limit our ability to borrow additional funds, or to dispose of assets to raise funds, if needed, for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or other new business and other corporate purposes;
delay investments and capital expenditures;
cause any refinancing of our indebtedness to be at higher interest rates and require us to comply with more onerous covenants, which could further restrict our business operations; and
prevent us from raising the funds necessary to repurchase all notes tendered to us upon the occurrence of certain changes of control.

Restrictions imposed by the indentures governing our senior notes, our credit agreement and our other outstanding or future indebtedness may limit our ability to operate our business and to finance our future operations or capital needs or to engage in other business activities.

The terms of the indentures governing our senior notes, our credit agreement and agreements governing our other debt instruments limit us and our subsidiaries from engaging in specified types of transactions. These covenants limit our and our subsidiaries’ ability, among other things, to:

incur additional debt;
declare or pay dividends, redeem stock or make other distributions to stockholders;
make investments;
create liens or use assets as security in other transactions;
merge or consolidate, or sell, transfer, lease or dispose of substantially all of our assets;

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enter into transactions with affiliates;
sell or transfer certain assets; and
enter into any consensual encumbrance or restriction on the ability of certain of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or make loans or sell assets to us.

As a result of these covenants and restrictions, we may be limited in how we conduct our business and we may be unable to raise additional indebtedness to compete effectively or to take advantage of new business opportunities. The terms of any future indebtedness we may incur could include more restrictive covenants. We cannot assure you that we will be able to maintain compliance with these covenants in the future and, if we fail to do so, that we will be able to obtain waivers from the lenders and/or amend the covenants.

Changes in market interest rates could negatively affect our profitability.

Changes in market interest rates cause our finance charges, net and our interest expense, net to increase or decrease, as certain of our assets and liabilities carry interest rates that fluctuate with market benchmarks. At December 31, 2020, 21% of our credit card and loan receivables were priced at a fixed interest rate to the accountholder, with the remaining 79% at a floating interest rate. We fund credit card and loan receivables with a combination of fixed rate and floating rate funding sources that include deposits and asset-backed securities, of which 68% were fixed and 32% were floating at December 31, 2020. We also have unsecured term debt that is subject to variable interest rates.

The interest rate benchmark for our floating rate assets is the prime rate, and the interest rate benchmark for our floating rate liabilities is generally either the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) or the federal funds rate. The prime rate and LIBOR or the federal funds rate could reset at different times or could diverge, leading to mismatches in the interest rates on our floating rate assets and floating rate liabilities. Interest rates are highly sensitive to many factors that are beyond our control, including general economic conditions, the competitive environment within our markets, consumer preferences for specific loan and deposit products, and policies of various governmental and regulatory agencies, in particular, the U.S. Federal Reserve. Changes in monetary policy, including changes in interest rate controls being applied by the U.S. Federal Reserve, could influence the amount of interest we receive on our credit card and loan receivables and the amount of interest we pay on deposits and borrowings.

On July 27, 2017, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (the authority that regulates LIBOR) announced that it intends to stop compelling banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021. It is unclear whether new methods of calculating LIBOR will be established or if LIBOR continues to exist after 2021. The U.S. Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, is considering replacing U.S. dollar LIBOR with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR. The selection of SOFR as the alternative reference rate, however, currently presents certain market concerns because a term structure for SOFR has not yet developed, and there is not yet a generally accepted methodology for adjusting SOFR. To facilitate an orderly transition away from LIBOR, we have established an enterprise-wide initiative to assess and implement necessary changes to our contracts, systems, processes, documentation, and models. These changes may introduce operational challenges and have a negative impact on our interest expense and profitability.

If the interest we pay on deposits and other borrowings increases at a faster rate than the interest we receive on our credit card and loan receivables, our profitability would be adversely affected. Conversely, our profitability could also be adversely affected if the interest we receive on our credit card and loan receivables falls more quickly than the interest we pay on deposits and other borrowings.

Future sales of our common stock, or the perception that future sales could occur, may adversely affect our common stock price.

As of February 18, 2021, we had an aggregate of 79,016,657 shares of our common stock authorized but unissued and not reserved for specific purposes. In general, we may issue all of these shares without any action or approval by our stockholders. We have reserved 4,058,625 shares of our common stock for issuance under our employee stock purchase plan and our long-term incentive plans, of which 514,112 shares have been issued and 1,007,364 shares are issuable upon vesting of restricted stock awards and restricted stock units. We have reserved for issuance 1,500,000 shares of our common stock, 341,096 of which remain issuable, under our 401(k) and Retirement Savings Plan as of December 31, 2020. In addition, we may issue shares of our common stock in connection with acquisitions. For example, on December 3, 2020, we issued 1,903,868 shares of our common stock in a private placement completed with our acquisition of Lon

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Inc. Sales or issuances of a substantial number of shares of common stock, or the perception that such sales could occur, could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock, and any sale or issuance of our common stock will dilute the ownership interests of existing stockholders.

The market price and trading volume of our common stock may be volatile and our stock price could decline.

The trading price of shares of our common stock has from time to time fluctuated widely and in the future may be subject to similar fluctuations. The trading price of our common stock may be affected by a number of factors, including our operating results, changes in our earnings estimates, additions or departures of key personnel, our financial condition, legislative and regulatory changes, general conditions in the industries in which we operate, general economic conditions, and general conditions in the securities markets. Other risks described in this report could also materially and adversely affect our share price.

There is no guarantee that we will pay future dividends or repurchase shares at a level anticipated by stockholders, which could reduce returns to our stockholders. Decisions to declare future dividends on, or repurchase, our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors based upon a review of relevant considerations.

Since October 2016, our board of directors has declared quarterly cash dividend payments on our outstanding common stock. Future declarations of quarterly dividends and the establishment of future record and payment dates are subject to approval by our board of directors. In the approximately 20 years since our initial public offering, our board of directors has approved various share repurchase programs resulting in the repurchase of approximately 67.4 million shares of our common stock, although there is no active share repurchase program at this time. The board’s determination to declare dividends on, or repurchase shares of, our common stock will depend upon our profitability and financial condition, contractual restrictions, restrictions imposed by applicable law and other factors that the board of directors deems relevant. For example, beginning with the second quarter of 2020, our board of directors reduced our quarterly dividend payment by 67% from $0.63 to $0.21 per quarter. Based on an evaluation of these factors, the board of directors may determine not to declare future dividends at all, to declare future dividends at a reduced amount, not to repurchase shares or to repurchase shares at reduced levels compared to historical levels, any or all of which could reduce returns to our stockholders.

Our reported financial information will be affected by fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and certain foreign currencies.

The results of our operations are exposed to foreign exchange rate fluctuations. We are exposed primarily to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollars and the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Euro. Upon translation, operating results may differ from our expectations. For the year ended December 31, 2020, foreign currency movements relative to the U.S. dollar positively impacted our revenue by approximately $6.5 million and negatively impacted our income from continuing operations before income taxes by approximately $1.7 million.

Regulatory Environment

Current and proposed regulation and legislation relating to our card services could limit our business activities, product offerings and fees charged and may have a significant impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), among other things, includes a sweeping reform of the regulation and supervision of financial institutions, as well as of the regulation of derivatives and capital market activities.

The full impact of the Dodd-Frank Act is not yet known because some of the final implementing regulations have not yet been issued by the requisite federal agencies. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act mandates multiple studies, which could result in future legislative or regulatory action. In particular, the Government Accountability Office issued its study on whether it is necessary, in order to strengthen the safety and soundness of institutions or the stability of the financial system of the United States, to eliminate the exemptions to the definition of “bank” under the Bank Holding Company Act for certain institutions including limited purpose credit card banks and industrial loan companies. The study did not recommend the elimination of these exemptions. However, if legislation were enacted to eliminate these

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exemptions without any grandfathering of or accommodations for existing institutions, we could be required to become a bank holding company and cease certain of our activities that are not permissible for bank holding companies or divest our credit card bank subsidiary, Comenity Bank, or our industrial bank subsidiary, Comenity Capital Bank.

The Dodd-Frank Act created the CFPB, a federal consumer protection regulator with authority to make further changes to the federal consumer protection laws and regulations. The CFPB assumed rulemaking authority under the existing federal consumer financial protection laws, and enforces those laws against and examines certain non-depository institutions and insured depository institutions with total assets greater than $10 billion and their affiliates.

Since October 2016, both Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank are under the CFPB’s supervision and the CFPB may, from time to time, conduct reviews of their practices. In addition, the CFPB’s broad rulemaking authority is expected to impact their operations, including with respect to deferred interest products. For example, the CFPB’s rulemaking authority may allow it to change regulations adopted in the past by other regulators including regulations issued under the Truth in Lending Act by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The CFPB’s ability to rescind, modify or interpret past regulatory guidance could increase our compliance costs and litigation exposure. Further, the CFPB has broad authority to prevent “unfair, deceptive or abusive” acts or practices and has taken enforcement action against other credit card issuers and financial services companies. Evolution of these standards could result in changes to pricing, practices, procedures and other activities relating to our credit card accounts in ways that could reduce the associated return. While the CFPB has taken public positions on certain matters, it is unclear what additional changes may be promulgated by the CFPB and what effect, if any, such changes would have on our credit accounts.

The Dodd-Frank Act authorizes certain state officials to enforce regulations issued by the CFPB and to enforce the Dodd-Frank Act’s general prohibition against unfair, deceptive or abusive practices. To the extent that states enact requirements that differ from federal standards or courts adopt interpretations of federal consumer laws that differ from those adopted by the federal banking agencies, we may be required to alter products or services offered in some jurisdictions or cease offering products, which will increase compliance costs and reduce our ability to offer the same products and services to consumers nationwide.

Various federal and state laws and regulations significantly limit the retail credit card services activities in which we are permitted to engage. Such laws and regulations, among other things, limit the fees and other charges that we can impose on consumers, limit or proscribe certain other terms of our products and services, require specified disclosures to consumers, or require that we maintain certain licenses, qualifications and minimum capital levels. In some cases, the precise application of these statutes and regulations is not clear. In addition, numerous legislative and regulatory proposals are advanced each year which, if adopted, could have a material adverse effect on our profitability or further restrict the manner in which we conduct our activities. The CARD Act, as implemented by regulations issued under the Truth in Lending Act, acts to limit or modify certain credit card practices and requires increased disclosures to consumers. The credit card practices addressed by the rules include, but are not limited to, restrictions on the application of rate increases to existing and new balances, payment allocation, default pricing, imposition of late fees and two-cycle billing. The failure to comply with, or adverse changes in, the laws or regulations to which our business is subject, or adverse changes in their interpretation, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to collect our receivables and generate fees on the receivables, thereby adversely affecting our profitability.

In the normal course of business, from time to time, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank have been named as defendants in various legal actions, including arbitrations, class actions and other litigation arising in connection with their business activities. While historically the arbitration provision in each bank’s customer agreement has generally limited such bank’s exposure to consumer class action litigation, there can be no assurance that the banks will be successful in enforcing the arbitration clause in the future. There may also be legislative, administrative or regulatory efforts to directly or indirectly prohibit the use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses.

Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank are also involved, from time to time, in reviews, investigations, and proceedings (both formal and informal) by governmental agencies regarding the banks’ business, which could subject the banks to significant fines, penalties, obligations to change its business practices or other requirements. In September 2015, each bank entered into a consent order with the FDIC in settlement of the FDIC’s review regarding the marketing, promotion and sale of certain add-on products; these consent orders were terminated in August 2018.

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On September 10, 2019, Comenity Capital Bank submitted a bank merger application to the FDIC seeking the FDIC’s approval to merge Comenity Bank with and into Comenity Capital Bank as the surviving bank entity. On the same date, Comenity Capital Bank and Comenity Bank each submitted counterpart bank merger applications to the Utah Department of Financial Institutions and the Delaware Office of the State Bank Commissioner, respectively, in connection with the proposed merger. The merger application remains subject to regulatory review and approval and no guarantee can be provided as to the outcome or timing of such review.

The effect of the Dodd-Frank Act on our business and operations, which will depend upon final implementing regulations, the actions of our competitors, the behavior of other marketplace participants and its interpretation and enforcement by federal or state officials or regulators, could be significant. In addition, we may be required to invest significant management time and resources to address the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and the regulations that are required to be issued under it. The Dodd-Frank Act and any related legislation or regulations and their interpretation and enforcement may have a material impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Legislation relating to consumer privacy and security may affect our ability to collect data that we use in providing our loyalty and marketing services, which, among other things, could negatively affect our ability to satisfy our clients’ needs.

Data protection and consumer privacy laws and regulations continue to evolve, increasing restrictions on our ability to collect and disseminate customer information. In addition, the enactment of new or amended legislation or industry regulations pertaining to consumer, public or private sector privacy issues could have a material adverse impact on our marketing services, including placing restrictions upon the collection, sharing and use of information that is currently legally available. There are also a number of specific laws and regulations governing the collection and use of certain types of consumer data primarily in connection with financial services transactions that are relevant to our various businesses and services. In the United States, federal laws such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or GLBA, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, as well as similar and applicable state laws, make it more difficult to collect, share and use information that has previously been legally available and may increase our costs of collecting some data. These laws give bank customers, including cardholders and depositors, the ability to “opt out” of having certain information generated by their applicable financial services transactions shared with other affiliated and unaffiliated parties or the public. Our ability to gather, share and utilize this data will be adversely affected if a significant percentage of the consumers whose purchasing behavior we track elect to “opt out,” thereby precluding us and our affiliates from using their data.

In the United States, the federal Do-Not-Call Implementation Act makes it more difficult to telephonically communicate with prospective and existing customers. Similar measures were implemented in Canada beginning September 1, 2008. Regulations in both the United States and Canada give consumers the ability to “opt out,” through a national do-not-call registry and state do-not-call registries, of having telephone solicitations placed to them by companies that do not have an existing business relationship with the consumer. In addition, regulations require companies to maintain an internal do-not-call list for those who do not want the companies to solicit them through telemarketing. These regulations could limit our ability to provide services and information to our clients. Failure to comply with these regulations could have a negative impact on our reputation and subject us to significant penalties. Further, the Federal Communications Commission has approved interpretations of rules related to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act defining robo-calls broadly, which may affect our ability to contact customers and may increase our litigation exposure.

In the United States, the federal Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 restricts our ability to send commercial electronic mail messages, the primary purpose of which is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service, to our customers and prospective customers. The act requires that a commercial electronic mail message provide the customers with an opportunity to opt-out from receiving future commercial electronic mail messages from the sender.

In the United States, California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, which went into effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA provides individual privacy rights for California consumers and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling certain personal data of consumers and households. The CCPA requires disclosures to consumers about companies’ data collection, use and sharing practices; provides consumers ways to opt-out of certain sales or transfers of personal information; and provides consumers with additional causes of action. The CCPA prohibits companies from discriminating against consumers who have opted out of the sale of their personal

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information, subject to a narrow exception. The CCPA provides for certain monetary penalties and for enforcement of the statute by the California Attorney General or by consumers whose rights under the law are not observed. It also provides for damages, as well as injunctive or declaratory relief, if there has been unauthorized access, theft or disclosure of personal information due to failure to implement reasonable security procedures. The CCPA contains several exemptions, including a provision to the effect that the CCPA does not apply where the information is collected, processed, sold or disclosed pursuant to the GLBA if the GLBA is in conflict with the CCPA.

In November 2020, California voters passed Proposition 24, known as the California Privacy Rights Act or CPRA. CPRA, which will amend existing CCPA requirements effective January 2023 with a one-year lookback period, includes limitations on the sharing of personal information for cross-context behavioral advertising and the use of “sensitive” personal information; the creation of a new correction right; and the establishment of a new agency to enforce California privacy law.

Further, there continues to be an increased interest in privacy laws at the federal and state levels where legislators are reviewing or proposing the need for greater regulation of the collection, processing, sharing and use of consumer data for marketing purposes or otherwise, including two federal privacy regulations introduced in late 2020.

In Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA, requires an organization to obtain a consumer’s consent to collect, use or disclose personal information. Under this act, consumer personal information may be used only for the purposes for which it was collected. We allow our customers to voluntarily “opt out” from receiving either one or both promotional and marketing mail or promotional and marketing electronic mail. Heightened consumer awareness of, and concern about, privacy may result in customers “opting out” at higher rates than they have historically. This would mean that a reduced number of customers would receive bonus and promotional offers and therefore those customers may collect fewer AIR MILES reward miles. The Government of Canada has created a Digital Charter providing new rights and expectations, including expected changes to PIPEDA.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, or CASL, may restrict our ability to send “commercial electronic messages,” defined to include text, sound, voice and image messages to email, or similar accounts, where the primary purpose is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service to our customers and prospective customers. CASL requires, in part, that a sender have consent to send a commercial electronic message, and provide the customers with an opportunity to opt out from receiving future commercial electronic email messages from the sender.

On May 25, 2018, The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, a European Union-wide legal framework to govern data collection, use and sharing and related consumer privacy rights came into force. The GDPR replaced the European Union Directive 95/46/EC and applies to and binds the EU Member States and the European Economic Area countries, which includes a total of 30 countries. The GDPR details greater compliance obligations on organizations, including the implementation of a number of processes and policies around data collection and use. These, and other terms of the GDPR, could limit our ability to provide services and information to our customers. In addition, the GDPR includes significant penalties for non-compliance.

In general, GDPR, and other European Union and Member State specific privacy and data governance laws, could also lead to adaptation of our technologies or practices to satisfy local privacy requirements and standards that may be more stringent than in the U.S. Similarly, it is possible that in the future, U.S. and foreign jurisdictions may adopt legislation or regulations that impair our ability to effectively track consumers’ use of our advertising services, such as the FTC’s proposed “Do-Not-Track” standard or other legislation or regulations similar to EU Directive 2009/136/EC, commonly referred to as the “Cookie Directive,” which directs EU Member States to ensure that accessing personal information on an internet user’s computer, such as through a cookie, is allowed only if the internet user has given his or her consent. In July 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union, or CJEU, ruled the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework invalid, but noted the use of standard contractual clauses for data transfers is still valid.On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union and entered into a Brexit transition period. Effective January 1, 2021, the EU and UK have adopted a new agreement providing that all transfers of personal data between stakeholders subject to GDPR and UK entities will not be considered as transfers to a third country provided that the UK’s current data protection scheme stays in place for the designated maximum period of six months through June 30, 2021. It is not yet known what the data protection landscape will look like at the end of the transition period.

In addition to the jurisdictions noted above, there is also rapid development of new privacy laws and regulations elsewhere around the globe, including amendments of existing data protection laws, to the scope of such laws and

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penalties for noncompliance. Failure to comply with these international data protection laws and regulations could have a negative impact on our reputation and subject us to significant penalties.

While all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted data breach notification laws, there is no such U.S. federal law generally applicable to our businesses. Data breach notification legislation and regulations relating to mandatory reporting came into force in Canada on November 1, 2018. Data breach notification laws have been proposed widely and exist in other specific countries and jurisdictions in which we conduct business. Legislative and regulatory measures, such as mandatory breach notification provisions, impose, among other elements, strict requirements on reporting time frames and providing notice to individuals.

Legislation relating to consumer protection may affect our ability to provide our loyalty and marketing services, which, among other things, could negatively affect our ability to satisfy our clients’ needs.

The enactment of new or amended legislation or industry regulations pertaining to consumer protection, or any failure to comply with such changes, could have a material adverse impact on our loyalty and marketing services. Such changes could result in a negative impact to our reputation, an adverse effect on our profitability or an increase in our litigation exposure.

For example, Ontario’s Protecting Rewards Points Act (Consumer Protection Amendment), 2016, and additional related regulations, prohibit suppliers from entering into or amending consumer agreements to provide for the expiry of rewards points due to the passage of time alone, while permitting the expiry of rewards points if the underlying consumer agreement is terminated and that agreement provides that reward points expire upon termination. Similar legislation pertaining to the expiry of rewards points due to the passage of time alone is also in effect in Quebec.

Our bank subsidiaries are subject to extensive federal and state regulation that may require us to make capital contributions to them, and that may restrict the ability of these subsidiaries to make cash available to us.

Federal and state laws and regulations extensively regulate the operations of Comenity Bank, as well as Comenity Capital Bank. Many of these laws and regulations are intended to maintain the safety and soundness of Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, and they impose significant restraints on them to which other non-regulated entities are not subject. As a state bank, Comenity Bank is subject to overlapping supervision by the State of Delaware and the FDIC. As a Utah industrial bank, Comenity Capital Bank is subject to overlapping supervision by the FDIC and the State of Utah. Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must maintain minimum amounts of regulatory capital. If Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank do not meet these capital requirements, their respective regulators have broad discretion to institute a number of corrective actions that could have a direct material effect on our financial statements. Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank, as institutions insured by the FDIC, must maintain certain capital ratios, paid-in capital minimums and adequate allowances for loan loss. If either Comenity Bank or Comenity Capital Bank were to fail to meet any of the capital requirements to which it is subject, we may be required to provide them with additional capital, which could impair our ability to service our indebtedness. To pay any dividend, Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank must each maintain adequate capital above regulatory guidelines. Accordingly, neither Comenity Bank nor Comenity Capital Bank may be able to make any of its cash or other assets available to us, including to service our indebtedness.

If our bank subsidiaries fail to meet certain criteria, we may become subject to regulation under the Bank Holding Company Act, which could force us to cease all of our non-banking activities and lead to a drastic reduction in our revenue and profitability.

If either of our depository institution subsidiaries failed to meet the criteria for the exemption from the definition of “bank” in the Bank Holding Company Act under which it operates (which exemptions are described below), and if we did not divest such depository institution upon such an occurrence, we would become subject to regulation under the Bank Holding Company Act. This would require us to cease certain of our activities that are not permissible for companies that are subject to regulation under the Bank Holding Company Act. One of our depository institution subsidiaries, Comenity Bank, is a Delaware State FDIC-insured bank and a limited-purpose credit card bank located in Delaware. Comenity Bank will not be a “bank” as defined under the Bank Holding Company Act so long as it remains in compliance with the following requirements:

it engages only in credit card operations;

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it does not accept demand deposits or deposits that the depositor may withdraw by check or similar means for payment to third parties;
it does not accept any savings or time deposits of less than $100,000, except for deposits pledged as collateral for its extensions of credit;
it maintains only one office that accepts deposits; and
it does not engage in the business of making commercial loans (except small business loans).

Our other depository institution subsidiary, Comenity Capital Bank, is a Utah industrial bank that is authorized to do business by the State of Utah and the FDIC. Comenity Capital Bank will not be a “bank” as defined under the Bank Holding Company Act so long as it remains an industrial bank in compliance with the following requirements:

it is an institution organized under the laws of a state which, on March 5, 1987, had in effect or had under consideration in such state’s legislature a statute which required or would require such institution to obtain insurance under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act; and
it does not accept demand deposits that the depositor may withdraw by check or similar means for payment to third parties.

Operational and Other Risk

We rely on third party vendors to provide products and services and are transitioning additional services to strategic outsourcing partners. Our business operations, reputation and profitability could be adversely impacted if our vendors fail to fulfill their obligations.

The failure of our suppliers to deliver products and services at contracted service levels or standards or in sufficient quantities and in a timely manner could adversely affect our business. These impacts arise from and include, but are not limited to, closures or restricted operating conditions and supply chain disruptions resulting from the current impacts of COVID-19. If our significant vendors were unable or unwilling to fulfill or renew our existing contracts on current terms, we might not be able to replace the related product or service at the same cost, in a timely fashion, or at all, any of which could negatively impact our profitability. In addition, if a third party vendor fails to meet contractual requirements, such as compliance with applicable laws and regulations, our business operations could suffer economic or reputational harm that could have a material adverse impact on our business and results of operations.

Further, in 2020, we have selected to transition our credit card processing, as well as certain print and mail and remittance processing functions associated with our Card Services segment, to strategic outsourcing partners, with targeted completion in 2022. Transitioning these services from our legacy platforms to strategic partners with established systems and functionality presents significant risks, including, but not limited to, potential losses or corruption of data, changes in security processes, implementation delays and cost overruns, resistance from current clients and account holders, disruption to operations, loss of customization or functionality, reliability issues with legacy systems prior to cutover and incurrence of outsized consulting costs to complete the transition. In addition, the pursuit of multiple new product integrations and outsourcing transitions simultaneously could increase the complexity and risk, as well as magnify the unintended consequences, including an inability to retain or replace key personnel during the transition as well as the incurrence of unexpected expenses as we adopt new processes for managing these service providers and establish controls and procedures to ensure regulatory compliance. Any transition or implementation delays, errors or difficulties may result in operational challenges, security failures, increased costs or reputational harm, any of which could materially adversely impact our profitability.

Failure to safeguard our data and consumer privacy could affect our reputation among our clients and their customers, and may expose us to legal claims.

Although we have extensive physical and cyber security controls and associated procedures, our data has in the past been and in the future may be subject to unauthorized access. In such instances of unauthorized access, the integrity of our data has in the past been and may in the future be affected. Security and privacy concerns may cause consumers to resist providing the personal data necessary to support our loyalty and marketing programs. Information security risks for large financial institutions have increased with the adoption of new technologies, including those used on mobile devices, to conduct financial and other business transactions, and the increased sophistication and activity level of threat actors. The use of our loyalty, marketing services or credit card programs could decline if any compromise of physical or

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cyber security occurred. In addition, any unauthorized release of customer information or any public perception that we released consumer information without authorization, could subject us to legal claims from our clients or their customers, consumers or regulatory enforcement actions, which may adversely affect our client relationships.

Loss of data center capacity, interruption due to cyber-attacks, loss of network connectivity or inability to utilize proprietary software of third party vendors could affect our ability to timely meet the needs of our clients and their customers.

Our ability, and that of our third-party service providers, to protect our data centers against damage, loss or performance degradation from fire, power loss, network failure, cyber-attacks, including ransomware or denial of service attacks, and other disasters is critical. In order to provide many of our services, we must be able to store, retrieve, process and manage large amounts of data as well as periodically expand and upgrade our technology capabilities. Any damage to our data centers, or those of our third-party service providers, any failure of our network links that interrupts our operations or any impairment of our ability to use our software or the proprietary software of third party vendors, including impairments due to cyber-attacks, could adversely affect our ability to meet our clients’ needs and their confidence in utilizing us for future services.

Our failure to protect our intellectual property rights and use of open source software may harm our competitive position, litigation to protect our intellectual property rights or defend against third party allegations of infringement may be costly, any of which could negatively impact our business, results of operations and profitability.

Third parties may infringe or misappropriate our trademarks or other intellectual property rights, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or operating results. The actions we take to protect our trademarks and other proprietary rights may not be adequate. Litigation may be necessary to enforce our intellectual property rights, protect our trade secrets or determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others. Any infringement or misappropriation could harm any competitive advantage we currently derive or may derive from our proprietary rights. Third parties may also assert infringement claims against us. Any claims and an adverse determination in any resulting litigation could subject us to significant liability for damages and require us to either design around a third party’s patent or license alternative technology from another party. In addition, litigation is time consuming and expensive to defend and could result in the diversion of our time and resources. Further, our competitors or other third parties may independently design around or develop similar technology, or otherwise duplicate our services or products in a way that would preclude us from asserting our intellectual property rights against them. In addition, our contractual arrangements may not effectively prevent disclosure of our intellectual property or confidential and proprietary information or provide an adequate remedy in the event of an unauthorized disclosure.

Aspects of our platform include software covered by open source licenses. United States courts have not interpreted the terms of various open source licenses, but could interpret them in a manner that imposes unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our platform. If portions of our proprietary software are determined to be subject to an open source license, we could also be required to, under certain circumstances, publicly release or license, at no cost, our products that incorporate the open source software or the affected portions of our source code. In addition to risks related to license requirements, usage of open source software can lead to greater risks than use of third-party commercial software because open source licensors generally do not provide warranties or other contractual protections regarding infringement, misappropriation, security vulnerabilities, defects or errors in the code or other violations, any of which could result in liability to us and negatively impact our business, results of operations, financial condition and profitability.

Our international operations, acquisitions and personnel subject us to complex U.S. and international laws and regulations, which if violated could subject us to penalties and other adverse consequences.

Our operations, acquisitions and employment of personnel outside the United States require us to comply with numerous complex laws and regulations of the U.S. government and the various international jurisdictions where we do business. These laws and regulations may apply to our company, or our individual directors, officers, employees or agents, and may restrict our operations, investment decisions or other activities. Specifically, we are subject to anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA; the U.K. Bribery Act 2010, or UKBA; and Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, or CFPOA. These laws generally prohibit providing anything of value to foreign officials for the purpose of influencing official decisions, obtaining or retaining business, or obtaining preferential treatment, and require us to maintain books and

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records that fairly and accurately reflect transactions and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls. As part of our business, we or our partners may do business with state-owned enterprises, the employees and representatives of which may be considered foreign officials for purposes of the FCPA, UKBA or CFPOA. There can be no assurance that our policies, procedures, training and compliance programs will effectively prevent violation of all U.S. and international laws and regulations with which we are required to comply. Violations of such laws and regulations could subject us to penalties that could adversely affect our reputation, business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, some international jurisdictions in which we operate could subject us to other obstacles, including lack of a developed legal system, elevated levels of corruption, strict currency controls, adverse tax consequences or foreign ownership requirements, difficult or lengthy regulatory approvals, or lack of enforcement for non-compete agreements.

Anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents and Delaware law may discourage or prevent a change of control, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our stockholders, which could affect our stock price adversely and prevent or delay change of control transactions or attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

Delaware law, as well as provisions of our certificate of incorporation, including those relating to our board’s authority to issue series of preferred stock without further stockholder approval, our bylaws and our existing and future debt instruments, could discourage unsolicited proposals to acquire us, even though such proposals may be beneficial to our stockholders.

In addition, we are subject to the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which may prohibit certain business combinations with stockholders owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock. These and other provisions in our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and Delaware law could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our board of directors or initiate actions that are opposed by our then-current board of directors, including a merger, tender offer or proxy contest involving us. Any delay or prevention of a change of control transaction or changes in our board of directors could cause the market price of our common stock to decline or delay or prevent our stockholders from receiving a premium over the market price of our common stock that they might otherwise receive.

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments.

None.

Item 2.

Properties.

As of December 31, 2020, we lease approximately 45 general office properties worldwide, comprised of approximately three million square feet. These facilities are used to carry out our operational, sales and administrative functions. Our principal facilities are as follows:

Approximate

Location

    

Segment

    

Square Footage

    

    

Lease Expiration Date

 

Columbus, Ohio

 

Corporate, Card Services

 

567,006

 

 

September 12, 2032

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 

LoyaltyOne

 

205,525

 

 

March 31, 2033

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

 

LoyaltyOne

 

13,699

 

 

February 28, 2025

Den Bosch, Netherlands

 

LoyaltyOne

 

132,482

 

 

December 31, 2033

Maasbree, Netherlands

 

LoyaltyOne

 

668,923

 

 

September 1, 2033

New York, New York

Card Services

18,500

January 31, 2023

Draper, Utah

Card Services

22,869

(1)

August 31, 2031

Columbus, Ohio

 

Card Services

 

103,161

 

 

December 31, 2027

Wilmington, Delaware

 

Card Services

 

5,198

 

June 30, 2021

(1) Excludes square footage of subleased portion.

We believe our current facilities are suitable to our businesses and that we will be able to lease, purchase or newly construct additional facilities as needed.

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Item 3.

Legal Proceedings.

From time to time we are involved in various claims and lawsuits arising in the ordinary course of our business that we believe will not have a material effect on our business or financial condition, including claims and lawsuits alleging breaches of our contractual obligations. See Indemnification in Note 18, “Commitments and Contingencies,” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

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PART II

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Market Information

Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, and trades under the symbol “ADS.”

Holders

As of February 18, 2021, the closing price of our common stock was $83.70 per share, there were 49,695,051 shares of our common stock outstanding, and there were 97 holders of record of our common stock.

Dividends

Payment of future dividends is subject to declaration by our board of directors. Factors considered in determining dividends include, but are not limited to, our profitability, expected capital needs, and contractual restrictions. See also “Risk FactorsThere is no guarantee that we will pay future dividends or repurchase shares at a level anticipated by stockholders, which could reduce returns to our stockholders.” Subject to these qualifications, we presently expect to continue to pay dividends on a quarterly basis.

On January 28, 2021, our board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.21 per share on our common stock, payable on March 18, 2021 to stockholders of record at the close of business on February 12, 2021.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The following table presents information with respect to purchases of our common stock made during the three months ended December 31, 2020:

Total Number of

Approximate Dollar

Shares Purchased as

Value of Shares that

Part of Publicly

May Yet Be

Total Number of

Average Price Paid

Announced Plans or

Purchased Under the

Period

    

Shares Purchased (1)

    

per Share

    

Programs

    

Plans or Programs (2)

(Dollars in millions)

During 2020:

October 1-31

 

8,058

$

51.55

$

November 1-30

 

2,742

 

66.66

 

 

December 1-31

6,976

75.05

Total

 

17,776

$

63.10

$

(1)During the period represented by the table, 17,776 shares of our common stock were purchased by the administrator of our 401(k) and Retirement Saving Plan for the benefit of the employees who participated in that portion of the plan.
(2)The Company’s stock repurchase program expired on June 30, 2020.

Performance Graph

The following graph compares the yearly percentage change in cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock since December 31, 2015, with the cumulative total return over the same period of (1) the S&P 500 Index and (2) a peer group of fifteen companies selected by us and utilized in our prior Annual Report on Form 10-K, which we will refer to as the 2019 Peer Group Index, and (3) a new peer group of fifteen companies selected by us, which we will refer to as the 2020 Peer Group Index.

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The fifteen companies in the 2019 Peer Group Index are PayPal Holdings, Inc., MasterCard Incorporated, Synchrony Financial, Discover Financial Services, Fifth Third Bancorp, Key Corp, Citizens Financial Group, Inc., Ally Financial Inc., M&T Bank Corporation, Regions Financial Corporation, Huntington Bancshares Incorporated, Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc., Comerica Incorporated, SVB Financial Group and Popular, Inc.

The fifteen companies in the 2020 Peer Group Index are PayPal Holdings, Inc., MasterCard Incorporated, Synchrony Financial, Discover Financial Services, Fifth Third Bancorp, Key Corp, Citizens Financial Group, Inc., Ally Financial Inc., M&T Bank Corporation, Regions Financial Corporation, Huntington Bancshares Incorporated, Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc., Comerica Incorporated, SVB Financial Group and Capital One Financial Corporation.

Pursuant to rules of the SEC, the comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2015 in our common stock and in each of the indices and assumes reinvestment of dividends, if any. Also pursuant to SEC rules, the returns of each of the companies in the peer group are weighted according to the respective company’s stock market capitalization at the beginning of each period for which a return is indicated. Historical stock prices are not indicative of future stock price performance.

Graphic

Alliance Data

Systems

2019 Peer

2020 Peer

    

Corporation

    

S&P 500

    

Group Index

    

Group Index

 

December 31, 2015

$

100.00

$

100.00

$

100.00

$

100.00

December 31, 2016

 

82.83

 

111.96

 

120.83

 

120.85

December 31, 2017

 

92.72

 

136.40

 

163.13

 

161.51

December 31, 2018

 

55.62

 

130.42

 

164.03

 

158.55

December 31, 2019

 

42.38

 

171.49

 

236.41

 

228.14

December 31, 2020

 

28.54

 

203.04

 

312.95

 

297.06

Our future filings with the SEC may “incorporate information by reference,” including this Form 10-K. Unless we specifically state otherwise, this Performance Graph shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference and shall not constitute soliciting material or otherwise be considered filed under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.

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Item 6.

Selected Financial Data.

SELECTED HISTORICAL CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL AND OPERATING INFORMATION

The following table sets forth our summary historical consolidated financial information for the periods ended and as of the dates indicated. You should read the following historical consolidated financial information along with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” contained in this Form 10-K.

Years Ended December 31,

    

2020

    

2019

    

2018

    

2017

    

2016

(in millions, except per share amounts)

Income statement data

Total revenue

$

4,521.4

$

5,581.3

$

5,666.6

$

5,474.7

$

5,013.2

Cost of operations (exclusive of amortization and depreciation disclosed separately below)

 

2,077.3

 

2,687.8

 

2,537.2

 

2,469.5

 

2,600.3

Provision for loan loss

 

1,266.2

 

1,187.5

 

1,016.0

 

1,140.1

 

940.5

General and administrative

 

105.7

 

150.6

 

162.5

 

159.3

 

135.6

Depreciation and other amortization

 

98.5

 

79.9

 

80.7

 

73.7

 

67.3

Amortization of purchased intangibles

 

85.3

 

96.2

 

112.9

 

114.2

 

119.6

Loss on extinguishment of debt

71.9

Total operating expenses

 

3,633.0

 

4,273.9

 

3,909.3

 

3,956.8

 

3,863.3

Operating income

 

888.4

 

1,307.4

 

1,757.3

 

1,517.9

 

1,149.9

Interest expense, net

 

493.9

 

569.0

 

542.3

 

455.4

 

370.9

Income from continuing operations before income taxes

 

394.5

 

738.4

 

1,215.0

 

1,062.5

 

779.0

Provision for income taxes

 

99.5

 

165.8

 

269.5

 

293.3

 

298.8

Income from continuing operations

$

295.0

$

572.6

$

945.5

$

769.2

$

480.2

(Loss) income from discontinued operations, net of taxes

(81.3)

(294.6)

17.6

19.5

37.4

Net income

$

213.7

$

278.0

$

963.1

$

788.7

$

517.6

Less: Net income attributable to non-controlling interest

 

 

 

 

 

1.8

Net income attributable to common stockholders

$

213.7

$

278.0

$

963.1

$

788.7

$

515.8

Basic income attributable to common stockholders per share:

Income from continuing operations

$

6.17

$

11.25

$

17.24

$

13.82

$

6.73

(Loss) income from discontinued operations

$

(1.70)

$

(5.89)

$

0.32

$

0.35

$

0.64

Net income attributable to common stockholders per share

$

4.47

$

5.36

$

17.56

$

14.17

$

7.37

Diluted income attributable to common stockholders per share:

Income from continuing operations

$

6.16

$

11.24

$

17.17

$

13.75

$

6.71

(Loss) income from discontinued operations

$

(1.70)

$

(5.78)

$

0.32

$

0.35

$

0.63

Net income attributable to common stockholders per share

$

4.46

$

5.46

$

17.49

$

14.10

$

7.34

Weighted average shares:

Basic

 

47.8

 

50.0

 

54.9

 

55.7

 

58.6

Diluted

 

47.9

 

50.9

 

55.1

 

55.9

 

58.9

Dividends declared per share:

$

1.26

$

2.52

$

2.28

$

2.08

$

0.52

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As of December 31,

    

2020

    

2019

    

2018

    

2017

    

2016

(in millions)

Balance sheet data

Credit card and loan receivables, net

$

14,776.4

$

18,292.0

$

16,816.7

$

17,494.5

$

15,595.9

Redemption settlement assets, restricted

 

693.5

 

600.8

 

558.6

 

589.5

 

324.4

Total assets

 

22,547.1

 

26,494.8

 

30,387.7

 

30,684.8

 

25,514.1

Deferred revenue

 

1,004.0

 

922.0

 

875.3

 

966.9

 

931.5

Deposits

 

9,792.6

 

12,151.7

 

11,793.7

 

10,930.9

 

8,391.9

Non-recourse borrowings of consolidated securitization entities

 

5,709.9

 

7,284.0

 

7,651.7

 

8,807.3

 

6,955.4

Long-term and other debt, including current maturities

 

2,805.7

 

2,849.9

 

5,725.4

 

6,070.9

 

5,595.4

Total liabilities

 

21,025.5

 

24,906.5

 

28,055.6

 

28,829.5

 

23,855.9

Total stockholders’ equity

 

1,521.6

 

1,588.3

 

2,332.1

 

1,855.3

 

1,658.2

Years Ended December 31,

    

2020

    

2019

    

2018

    

2017

    

2016

(in millions)

Cash flow data

 

 

 

 

 

Cash flows from operating activities

$

1,882.7

$

1,217.7

$

2,754.9

$

2,599.1