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Nets welcomes $5.3 billion takeover bid by Hellman & Friedman: Reuters

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Payments firm Nets on Monday welcomed a 33.1 billion Danish crown ($5.3 billion) bid from U.S. firm Hellman & Friedman, marking what could be one of the largest European private equity takeovers in recent years.

Nets said in July it had been approached by potential buyers as the industry sees a wave of deals, with consumers switching to card and mobile payments and regulatory changes promising to open up the fragmented market.

The Danish firm was taken public in Copenhagen a year ago and was valued at 30 billion crowns, or 150 crowns per share, double what Advent International, Bain Capital and Danish pension fund ATP had paid for it two years earlier.

Other recent takeover targets have included Worldpay and Paysafe.

“We see an opportunity under private partnership to harness the expertise from the Nordic region – which is one of the most dynamic – and have the financial flexibility to examine consolidation,” Patrick Healy, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Hellman & Friedman, told Reuters.

The price would imply a valuation for Nets of 13 times 2018 enterprise-value-to-EBITDA, in line with the sector average, UBS wrote in a research note.

Hellman & Friedman’s offer of 165 crowns per share represents a 27 percent premium to Nets’ share price as of June 30, before Nets said it had been approached by potential buyers.

Nets shares rose 6.4 percent on Monday.

The biggest issuer of Denmark’s most widely used debit card said shareholders representing 46 percent of its share capital had agreed to accept the offer, including Advent and Bain who still hold 39.9 percent of the shares.

“We believe the offer represents attractive value to Nets’ shareholders,” Nets chairman Inge Hansen said in a statement.

“Hellman & Friedman approached us in June, following which we received a number of other expressions of interest and held discussions with selected parties,” she said.

Reuters earlier reported that Hellman & Friedman along with Permira and Nordic Capital had all completed due diligence on Nets.

Nets’ shares shed nearly 30 percent of their value over the six months following the listing in September last year, but jumped back close to the IPO price in early July when Nets said it had been approached by potential buyers.

J.P. Morgan has advised Nets.