UAE’s Network International agrees to buy Emerging Markets Payments Group: Reuters

(Reuters) — Dubai-based Network International has agreed to buy rival Emerging Markets Payments (EMP) from private equity firm Actis in a deal creating the largest payments processor in the Middle East and Africa, it said on Wednesday.

The size of the deal was not disclosed but sources familiar with the matter told Reuters it was more than $300 million.

It is the first acquisition made by the payments firm since private equity firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic bought a 49 percent stake in Network International late last year. Dubai’s largest bank, Emirates NBD ENBD.DU, owns the rest.

“We are creating an organization that is five times larger than our closest competitor and giving our customers a geographic spread right across the Middle East and Africa,” Network International Chief Executive Bhairav Trivedi told Reuters.

He said the competitor he was referring to was Lebanon-based CSC.

Network International currently sources around 80 percent of its revenue from the United Arab Emirates. After the deal, around 65 percent will come from within the UAE, Trivedi said.

The acquisition would allow Network International to grow its revenue in the mid to high 30s percent in 2016, he said.

In Africa, EMP serves more than 35,000 retailers and 130 banks and processes over nine million accounts, Network International said in a statement.

“We will use their [EMP’s] platform to expand further into Africa,” Dan Zilberman, head of EMEA at Warburg Pincus, told Reuters.“We will integrate the two businesses and continue growing through acquisitions and organically.”

Nigeria-based payments firm Interswitch is one of the companies that could be the next acquisition target, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.