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Categorized | Banks, Equities, Financial

Danish payments processor Nets plans IPO

Posted on August 31, 2016

nets group logo

Scandinavia’s biggest payment processor aims to announce plans for an initial public offering on Thursday that could value it at as much as DKr35bn ($5.2bn), according to people briefed on the plans.

The planned flotation of Nets Holding on the Danish stock exchange comes only two years after it was bought by the US private equity groups, Bain Capital and Advent International, in a consortium with Danish pension fund ATP Group.

    The American private equity groups are aiming to repeat the success they enjoyed last year with the £5bn IPO of Worldpay, the UK-based payments processor they bought from Royal Bank of Scotland seven years ago.

    The move marks an attempt to reopen the European IPO market for larger companies, which suffered a stuttering start to the year and has been effectively closed since the British vote to exit the EU in June.

    The $18.5bn raised from European IPOs so far this year is down 55 per cent from the same period of 2015, according to Thomson Reuters.

    The plans also underline how the Nordic region is punching above its weight in the IPO market because of its relative economic strength — Denmark’s Dong Energy pulled off the biggest flotation in the world this year, debuting at about $16.5bn in June.

    Nets has sharply improved its performance since the consortium bought it for DKr17bn from a group of 189 Nordic banks in 2014.

    The payments processing group has produced strong growth on the back of rising use of the internet and mobile devices to transfer money, an area in which the Nordic region is particularly advanced.

    Nets handled 7.3bn transactions last year, up from slightly more than 6bn two years earlier. Its revenues rose 6 per cent in 2015, while its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and special items were up by a third.

    The company is expected to use much of the IPO proceeds to reduce the debt used by the private equity consortium to fund its acquisition two years ago. Bain and Advent are expected to keep a “significant stake”, according to people briefed on the plans.

    The company is expected to be valued at between DKr30bn and DKr35bn. Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank have been appointed as global co-ordinators, while Nordea and Danske Bank are acting as arrangers.

    Since it was bought by the private equity consortium two years ago, Nets has overhauled its senior management team, promoting former JPMorgan banker Bo Nilsson from chief financial officer to chief executive.

    The company has completed seven smaller acquisitions to bulk up in markets where it lacked scale, such as Sweden. It has also invested in its IT platform to improve security and strengthen its digital and mobile payments offering.

    Staff numbers have been trimmed, as full-time employees fell from 2,618 at the end of 2014 to 2,413 at the end of last year. But the private equity owners boosted capital expenditure, which rose by a third to DKr539m last year.