Payment : LBO record of 4.45 billion euros in Scandinavia

Just a year after its ipo on the Nasdaq Copenhagen, the number one scandinavian payments, Net, comes to accept the takeover offer from american investment fund Hellman & Friedman for 33.1 billion crowns (4.45 billion euros) in cash.

It would be the biggest acquisition by debt (LBO) in Europe since march 2013, according to the Financial Times – exceeding that of the manufacturer of generic drugs Stada. Considering the amount, the private equity fund of california has partnered with the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, GIC, as part of a consortium.

Shareholders representing 46% of the share capital of Net accepted the offer, recommended by the board of directors, which presents it as “the best alternative on the table.”

“We believe that Hellman & Friedman is a responsible owner, focused on growth, which will be in a position to adopt a strategic approach to the long-term benefit of shareholders,” said the president of the board of directors, Inge Hansen in a press release.

Bubble in the private equity or payments ?

Is this the sign of a bubble in private equity, who does not know what to do with its billion of dry powder (“dry powder”, the funds not invested) ? The Danish Net, resulting from the merger of several payment systems of the banks in the nordic countries, had been sold by the latter in 2014 to other funds, Advent, Bain Capital and the pension fund Danish ATP, which were then put in the Stock market. It will not be easy for the new owners to find new sources of savings or margins. The company announced it had been approached on the 1st of July.

The operation mainly shows the strong attraction of the investors for the payments industry, in full concentration. This summer, the u.s. Vantiv has purchased the british Worldpay 8 billion pounds, the French Ingenico has acquired the Fintech Swedish Bambora to 1.5 billion euros, and the funds Blackstone and CVC paid 3.3 billion euros for the british Paysafe. This is not all : the Paypal chinese, the giant Ant Financial (the galaxy’s Alibaba), struggles to get the green light from the repurchase $ 1.2 billion of Moneygram. The Permira funds have also invested in Fintech Swedish Klarna a ticket that is estimated to be approximately $ 250 million on the basis of a valuation of $ 2.5 billion. The new owners of the Net have probably the intention to perform other operations, consolidation in Europe, based on the platform of the northern company, in advance in the field of digital payment.

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