Brookfield Taps Ex-Worldpay Exec to Move Deeper into Payments Sector

Brookfield has hired Worldpay’s former CEO to oversee its push into the financial infrastructure space.

Sir Ron Kalifa, who spent more than a decade leading Worldpay and is now chair of Network International, is joining Brookfield as a vice-chair and head of its financial infrastructure strategy, the Financial Times (FT) reported Monday (Oct. 23).

The FT report notes that Brookfield — which has $850 billion in assets under management and is known primarily in the real estate sector — is hoping to capitalize on the pressure facing banks and governments to upgrade their financial systems. 

“The global financial system is at an inflection point, with macroeconomic trends driving a sector transition that requires scale capital and deep operating expertise,” Kalifa said.

According to the FT, Brookfield has invested $5 billion into companies that provide financial infrastructure in recent years and intends to continue that strategy after raising another $12 billion. A source close to the matter told the newspaper that that means working with financial institutions, central banks and governments.

That source added that the company has already held talks with some central banks about investing in and providing expertise to help enhance outdated financial systems.

Payment companies have become a popular target for private equity firms of late, with last week bringing reports that CVC Capital Partners was weighing a bid for Italy’s Nexi.

FIS sold its majority stake in Worldpay to private equity group GTCR for $18.5 billion in July, a deal said to be the largest buyout financing since Elon Musk purchased Twitter.

And Brookfield itself agreed in June to acquire Network International for about $2.7 billion to expand its credit card processing presence in the Middle East. 

Elsewhere in the private equity space, Sunday (Oct. 22) brought a report that PE firms Blackstone and Permira were reconsidering their potential acquisition of Norwegian online classifieds company Adevinta.

The potential deal, which would have been one of the biggest buyouts of the year, is being taken back to the investment committees of the firms for further discussion, Bloomberg reported.

That report noted that the market outlook has worsened since news of the bid first emerged in September, dampening the firms’ desire to make such a substantial bet during uncertain times.