Hellman & Friedman Is Said Near Deal for Payments Firm Nets

Updated on
  • Announcement on agreement could be as early as next week
  • Consolidation in the payment services sector is accelerating

U.S. private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC is close to an agreement to buy Nets A/S just one year after the Nordic digital payments firm sold shares through an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

The two parties may reach an agreement on the deal as early as next week, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Discussions, though advanced, are still ongoing and a deal could still be delayed or fall apart, they said.

Consolidation in the payment services sector has accelerated in recent months as investors look for ways to profit from the shift to online spending. Blackstone Group and CVC Capital Partners agreed to buy Paysafe Group Plc for about 3 billion pounds ($4 billion), while Vantiv Inc. agreed to acquire rival Worldpay Group Plc for about 8 billion pounds last month.

Nets shares have risen 23 percent this year, giving the payments company a market value of about 30.5 billion kroner ($4.9 billion). A takeover of Ballerup, Denmark-based Nets would be one of the largest take-private deals in Europe along with the buyout of Germany’s Stada Arzneimittel AG.

Bloomberg News reported in July that Nets had drawn interest from potential buyers and was reviewing its options. The company started trading in Copenhagen last September in one of Europe’s largest IPOs of the year, valuing the firm at about $4.5 billion. Private equity funds Advent International Corp. and Bain Capital reduced their stakes in that share sale, as did Danish pension fund ATP.

Advent and Bain may retain a small stake after the sale, one of the people said.

Representatives of Hellman & Friedman, Advent and Bain declined to comment. Nets couldn’t immediately comment.

— With assistance by Frances Schwartzkopff, and Aaron Kirchfeld

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