Partnerships / Acquisitions

Scandinavian Payments Processor Nets Sold For $5.3B

Nets, the mobile payments company, has received a 33.1 billion Danish crown ($5.3 billion) offer from Hellman & Friedman, the U.S. private equity (PE) firm.

According to news from Reuters, the deal has the potential of being the largest acquisition of a European company by a private equity firm.

Back in July, Nets said it had been approached by a handful of would-be suitors who showed an interest in acquiring the Danish mobile payments company. The attraction came about as a result of a change in behavior of consumers in Europe, who are favoring mobile payments over credit cards. Regulatory changes are also expected to open up the market and could result in more acquisitions or partnerships in the industry.

Nets went public in Copenhagen in 2016 and, according to Reuters, was valued at 30 billion crowns at the time.

Other suitors included industrial players and other PE firms, noted the report, citing Nets’ Deputy Chairman, Jeff Gravenhorst. France’s Worldline was named as one potential suitor, as well.

“We see an opportunity under private partnership to harness the expertise from the Nordic region — which is one of the most dynamic — and have the financial flexibility to examine consolidation,” Patrick Healy, deputy chief executive officer at Hellman & Friedman, told Reuters. The offer markets a 27 percent premium to Nets’ closing share price as of June 30, before the company was approached by suitors.

“We believe the offer represents attractive value to Nets’ shareholders,” Nets Chairman Inge Hansen said in a statement, noting Hellman & Friedman had reached out for a deal in June.

The acquisition still needs the backing of shareholders representing 90 percent of the company’s capital. Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are providing debt financing for the deal and will be joined by other banks, noted Reuters, citing banking sources.



The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.