Nets is rumoured to be nearing a deal that is expected to value the company’s shares at more than DKr31.3bn ($5bn) with US private equity firm Hellman & Friedman the front runner in the race to acquire it.
The board of Nets, which only went public via a Copenhagen listing last year, met in recent days with a view to deciding on a victor following an auction that has sparked interest in the company from private equity houses and industry peers – according to the FT.
The outcome of that meeting is expected soon, according to people close to the discussions, who added that H&F was leading the process and could soon enter into exclusive talks. These people cautioned that a deal was not guaranteed and other suitors had been following the process closely.
Nets has been working with investment banking advisers, including JPMorgan Chase. The company said in a statement that “discussions are still ongoing regarding a potential takeover offer for Nets A/S….There is no certainty at this stage that an agreement will be reached.”
In early July, Nets confirmed it had drawn interest from potential buyers, but it said a review of the situation was at an early stage. H&F is working with some of its own investors which are likely to co-invest alongside the San Francisco-based buyout group in the deal. The transaction would be the largest European leveraged buyout in the past four years, as record-low interest rates provide private equity groups with cheap financing.
It would also be the latest in a string of deals in the fragmented European payment processing sector, where competitors are looking to build scale, strip out costs and capitalise on a shift away from cash and cheques towards digital payments. In early August, Vantiv of the US agreed a £9.3bn deal to acquire Worldpay.