• Buyout firms working with Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley
  • Company could seek an equity value of at least $3.5 billion

The private equity owners of Nets Holding A/S are exploring options including an initial public offering of the Nordic payments processor, just under two years after buying the company, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Advent International, Bain Capital and Danish pension fund ATP are working with Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley to assess Nets’ suitability for an IPO or sale this year, said the people, who asked not to be named as the details aren’t public. The company may seek an equity valuation of more than $3.5 billion, the people said, with one person saying it could be about $4 billion. No final decision has been made and the owners may also choose to keep Nets, they said.

Nets is one of a number of payments processing companies whose owners have looked to exit in the past 12 months. Vista Equity Partners sold Transfirst to Total Systems Services Inc. for about $2.35 billion in January, while Worldpay Group, also backed by Advent and Bain, sold shares in London in October after rebuffing buyout offers.

The consortium agreed to buy Nets for 17 billion kroner ($2.5 billion) from a group of Nordic banks, including Danske Bank A/S, Nordea Bank AB, DNB ASA and Denmark’s central bank, in March 2014.

At the time of its purchase of Nets a spokesman for Bain said that it planned to “invest to develop the business.” The consortium backed the bolt-on purchase of Nordea Merchant Acquiring for 230 million euros ($256 million) in July last year.

Nets reported net revenue of 6.5 billion Danish kroner in 2014 and profit of 652 million kroner, an increase of 6 percent over the previous year, according to its annual report. The company has offices in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia and processes more than 1 billion digital identity transactions annually.

Spokesmen for Bain, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank declined to comment. Representatives for ATP and Advent didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

Companies in the Nordics raised about $8 billion from IPOs in 2015 as private-equity backed issuers including Dometic Group AB, a maker of cooling equipment for vehicles, and discount retailer Europris ASA sold shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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