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Ingenico Said to Weigh Purchase of Hi-Media’s Payment Business

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Ingenico SA is considering a purchase of Hi-Media SA’s electronic-payment business, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

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., EBay Inc. 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 Service

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. 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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland, Oregon, at okharif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles@bloomberg.net

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