BNP Paribas considering sale of Italian payments business Axepta

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BNP Paribas SA is considering the sale of its Italian payments unit Axepta SpA, according to people with knowledge of the matter, adding to a spate of deals in the rapidly consolidating sector.

France’s largest bank is speaking with advisers about a disposal early next year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The Italian merchant acquiring unit, which specializes in the management of electronic payments, may be valued at as much as 200 million euros ($240 million) and is expected to attract interest from industry peers, according to one of the people.

Axepta manages about 15 million monthly payment transactions and has about 100 employees in Italy, according to its website. The unit offers payments and e-commerce advice to small- and medium-sized enterprises, large retailers and artisans.

A representative for BNP Paribas declined to comment.

The payments industry is in a phase of rapid consolidation, with banks disposing of their own units and specialized players seeking to scale up. Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo SpA agreed late last year to sell its payments systems unit to Nexi SpA in a 1 billion-euro deal and in February.

Nexi followed with rapid fire agreements to acquire SIA SpA, its main Italian competitor, and Denmark’s Nets A/S in deals that will create a European payments giant. Worldline SA earlier agreed to buy French rival Ingenico Group SA for 7.8 billion euros to form one of the largest payment-services providers

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