Walmart has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Arkansas against its former partner, the credit-card issuer Synchrony Financial, alleging breach of contract of their agreement for credit cards issued to Walmart’s shoppers.
The retailer said Synchrony broke an “implied promise” that it wouldn’t harm Walmart’s ability “to receive fruits of the contract” and is seeking a jury trial and $800 million in damages. It also alleges some of Synchrony’s underwriting standards financially harmed Walmart.
Synchrony called the suit “baseless” and said it plans to file its own claims against Walmart.
The dispute comes as negotiations between Walmart and Synchrony have wavered over whether billions of dollars in balances will be transferred to Walmart’s new partner, Capital One Financial.
In July, Walmart announced that Capital One would issue its new private-label, co-branded credit cards, starting next year. Synchrony is negotiating whether to sell $10 billion in Walmart portfolio balances to Capital One or retain them, it has said.
Walmart had partnered with Synchrony for nearly 20 years.
“This lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by Walmart to exert leverage and avoid the contractually defined process for valuing the loan portfolio that Synchrony has serviced,” Synchrony said, pledging to, “demonstrate Walmart failed in the most basic elements of our agreement, including its promotion of the card program both in stores and online.”
In its own statement, Walmart said it tried to avoid litigation and it expected Synchrony to “manufacture” counterclaims to shift focus. It said its former partner has failed to take responsibility for its actions.
Synchrony shares have declined nearly 23% since news broke that Walmart was considering the switch. The partnership accounted for more than 10% of the interest and fees Synchrony earned on loans last year.
Walmart has reportedly seen rising loan losses, resulting in less revenue than expected from the Synchrony deal.
Before going public in 2014, Synchrony was an operating subsidiary of GE Capital.