Fintech Frenzy Makes Heir to Brazil's Frias Family a Billionaire

An enthusiastic investor reception for digital-payments company PagSeguro Digital Ltd. has made its chairman, a scion of Brazil’s Frias family, a billionaire.

Luiz Frias controls a PagSeguro stake worth $3.1 billion through his majority holding in parent company Universo Online SA, as the shares surged on their first day of trading in New York, according to an analysis of the prospectus by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The shares, which priced at $21.50, advanced more than 30 percent as of noon.

Frias, 54, didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment.

The Frias family has spent more than a half-century building a media empire, beginning with his father’s 1962 purchase of the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper -- now Brazil’s most popular daily. Universo Online, or UOL, which the family took private in 2012, collected about $1 billion from PagSeguro’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

The IPO is the largest by a Brazilian company since 2011 and the biggest on the NYSE since Snap Inc.’s last March, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The company, which targets smaller retailers who have been dependent on Brazil’s biggest banks, had 2.5 million active merchants on its network as of at Sept. 30, according to the prospectus.

The payments company, now with a market value of almost $8.9 billion, is benefiting from a surge in investment in emerging-market financial-technology startups that saw venture funding for Brazilian entrants rise to $160 million in 2016 from $34 million in 2012.

The listing also cements UOL as the family’s crown jewel, with about 73 percent of Brazilian internet users accessing one of its sites in May 2017, according to comScore. UOL says it’s Brazil’s largest internet content, digital products and services company.

— With assistance by Jack Witzig, Pamela Roux, and Blake Schmidt

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