Nexi said to eye Denmark’s Nets in new blockbuster payments play

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Nexi SpA is already hunting for its next target after agreeing a milestone payments merger with Italian rival SIA SpA, as consolidation in the sector shows little sign of easing.

Milan-based Nexi has made a non-binding offer for Denmark-based Nets A/S, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Nets’s private-equity owners invited a select group of potential buyers to submit offers and could enter advanced talks with a preferred bidder as soon as this month, one of the people said.

If Nexi were to buy Nets, it would extend its reach as a pan-European payments giant with operations spanning Italy, German-speaking countries and the Nordics. News of its approach follows its agreement to buy SIA for 4.56 billion euros ($5.3 billion) to create one of Europe’s biggest payment providers.

The global payments industry has been one of the most active for dealmaking in recent years, as firms seek to become more competitive and keep pace with rapidly changing technology. Landmark transactions in the U.S. and Europe have included Worldline SA’s takeover of rival Ingenico Group SAand Global Payments Inc.’s agreement to buy Total System Services Inc.

Nexi could face competition in its pursuit of Nets from suitors including Global Payments, which has separately expressed interest, the people said. The owners of Nets are seeking a valuation of nearly $10 billion in any sale, the people said.

A group led by U.S. buyout firm Hellman & Friedman bought Nets for about 33 billion kroner ($5.2 billion) in a deal completed in 2018. Hellman & Friedman has grown the company through acquisitions and has also generated value from a disposal of certain assets to Mastercard.

Other shareholders of Nets include Advent International and Bain Capital, which are also major investors in Nexi. No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said.

Spokespeople for Advent, Bain, Hellman & Friedman and Nexi declined to comment. A representative for Global Payments couldn’t immediately be reached outside regular U.S. business hours.

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