Synovus ( SNV) is finally spinning off its card payments processor, Total Systems Services ( TSS). The long-expected spinoff, which Synovus announced late Thursday separately from a lower-than-expected third-quarter earnings report, is planned for the end of the year. It will allow Total Systems to broaden its investor base and "enhance its growth and strategic position in the industry," without being constricted under a bank holding structure, Synovus says. While shares of both Synovus and Total Systems were rising in late trading, Moody's was bearish on the news. The ratings agency placed the long-term ratings of Synovus and its subsidiaries under review for possible downgrade, saying the spinoff could further expose the stock to its risky commercial loan portfolio. Columbus, Ga.-based Synovus, which owns 81% of Total Systems stock, plans to distribute 0.49 shares of Total Systems for each share of Synovus stock. It will distribute a total of 159.6 million shares. Separating Synovus, a largely commercial-oriented bank, from its card processor has been speculated about for some time by analysts. The issue has particularly come to the forefront as Marshall & Ilsley ( MI) gets ready to spin off its own payments processor, Metavante, this quarter. Synovus believes spinning off Total Systems "will provide both companies opportunities to strategically accelerate growth," says Synovus CEO Richard Anthony. Once the spinoff is complete, Synovus plans to expand its investment banking business, he says.