Card-payment Firm Nets Acquired By Bain And Partners

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A private equity consortium led by Bain Capital (including Advent International and ATP) announced today that they have signed an agreement to acquire Nordic card-payment company Nets for $3.14 billion. The Web financial services concern is largely owned by a group of Scandinavian banks.

A number of Danish and other Nordic region banks are also restating their financial results based on the profits to be realized from the sale. The transaction is subject to the usual regulatory approvals, and sources say the deal is projected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

Statement regarding the acquisition

“We see a compelling investment opportunity to transform Nets from a strong Nordic company into a Northern European leader within the payments industry,” said Carsten Stendevad, chief executive of ATP, one of the members of the PE group that acquired Nets.

Robin Marshall, managing director and co-head of Bain’s European financial services team, also mentioned in an interview that the group did not currently have plans to expand Nets’ sphere of operations beyond their Northern European area.

Controversial Nets sale

The proposed sale of Nets has provoked a good bit of controversy in Denmark, with right-wing and far left political parties arguing the company should be purchased by the government. They have expressed concern regarding the security of Danish citizens’ data if a foreign investor takes control of the firm, especially in light if several recent large data breaches in the U.S.

Henrik Sass Larsen, the Danish minister for business and growth, said in a recent interview that there is no good reason to be concerned about data privacy or security because Nets will be government regulated and controlled in the same way even with a change in ownership.

In interviews regarding the acquisition, some of the buyers mentioned the possibility of eventually IPOing Nets on a Nordic stock exchange, but at this time there are no plans to merge the company with any of the other Web-based payment payment firms they own, including Worldpay, co-owned by Bain Capital and Advent International.

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