(Reuters) French payments company Ingenico has submitted a bid to buy UK firm Worldpay, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, as the contest heats up to take control of Europe’s leading payments processor.
Worldpay, owned by private equity firms Advent and Bain, is heading for a London flotation in the autumn that could value it at around 6 billion pounds ($9.2 billion).
But the company has been targeted by several private equity houses, including CVC.
U.S. funds Blackstone and Hellman & Friedman are bidding together, while rivals including Germany’s Wirecard have also entered the fray.
Ingenico has a stock market value of 7.42 billion euros.
Worldpay was carved out of RBS in 2010, by which time it was the largest merchant acquirer in Europe, providing card processing services for businesses.
Competing bidders will be hoping to tempt Worldpay from the public listing route. After 2014, when firms found higher valuations in flotations rather than in buyers’ hands, the balance has shifted as stock markets stumble and buyers grow more eager for assets.
UK travel website Trainline and German perfume chain Douglas were both snapped up by private equity funds earlier this year, averting planned initial public offerings (IPOs).
Yet private equity firms have sometimes found it difficult to compete with so-called trade buyers, which are often eager to deploy large cash piles and are able to offer higher prices due to potential synergy benefits.
Shares in Ingenico fell 6.6 percent to 113 euros by 0942 GMT following an earlier report by Sky News.
Worldpay, Advent, Bain and Ingenico declined comment.