A deal related to the unit may be announced Aug. 31, when Paris-based Hi-Media reports earnings, and may involve a sale or joint venture, according to a second person, who declined to be named because the talks are private. Hi-Media said in December it was working with NIBC Bank NV to review options for the Hipay electronic-wallet and the Allopass micropayment platform.
Hi-Media generated half of its 222 million euros ($322 million) in sales last year from the electronic-payment unit, which lets consumers send and receive money online and via phones. The business would help an acquirer gain share in the global mobile-payments market, which Juniper Research expects to reach $670 billion by 2015.
“You are buying a company with a lot of volume in Europe that’s making money and is already profitable,” said Pierre Bernardin, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in Paris.
Google Inc. (GOOG), EBay Inc. (EBAY) or a private-equity firm might want to buy the business to expand in mobile payments, he said. Hi- Media may be able to command a price of at least 120 million euros -- or more from a buyer well-positioned to quickly use the purchase to grow in new markets, he said.
Koen van Zijl, a spokesman for NIBC in the Netherlands, and Nathan Tyler, a Google spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Ingenico spokesman Svy Nekrasas and Jerome Dangu at Hi-Media declined to comment, as did EBay spokesman John Pluhowski.
Allopass is available in 65 countries and is used for more than 8 million transactions a month, according to Hi-Media’s website. Hi-Media’s business also includes the Hipay electronic wallet and a phone-based billing service.
In February 2010, Hi-Media opened an office in San Francisco to expand its U.S. business. Since then, Google has teamed up with companies such as VeriFone Systems Inc. (PAY) to introduce a so-called mobile wallet, which enables phones to be used for payments. Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc., T-Mobile USA also started a joint venture called Isis to provide a similar service.
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