General Atlantic, Warburg Buy Stake in U.A.E. Payments Firm

  • U.S. private equity firms take 49 percent of payments company
  • Network International targeting further expansion in MENA

General Atlantic LLC and Warburg Pincus LLC, two U.S. private equity firms, acquired a 49 percent stake in United Arab Emirates-based payments processing company Network International LLC.

Emirates NBD, which established Network International in 1994, will continue to hold a 51 percent stake, according to a statement from Network. No further details were given.

The Abraaj Group, which agreed to acquire a stake in Network International in 2010, had earlier sought an initial public offering for the business, people familiar with the matter said in June. Network International serves more than 70 banks and financial institutions in Middle East and North Africa and more than 17,000 individual merchants, according to Abraaj’s website. The deal is the first for General Atlantic in the Middle East.

“We are seeing a rapid rise in consumer demand for electronic payments due to the growth in card usage, Internet adoption, and smartphone penetration,” Gabriel Caillaux, Managing Director of General Atlantic, said in the statement.

Network International plans further expansion in the Middle East and North Africa after the acquisition, according to Joseph Schull, managing director and head of Europe at Warburg Pincus. The company “is well-positioned to act as a consolidator across the payments industry in the region,” Schull said Thursday by phone. “We have additional capital that is available to help fund acquisitions by Network International.”

General Atlantic and Warburg Pincus were advised by Perella Weinberg Partners LP, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. on the deal, while Abraaj was advised by Moelis & Co.

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