Network International LLC has entered into a strategic partnership with Abraaj Capital, which announced the deal Dec. 22.

Under the agreement, the Dubai-based private equity group, through Abraaj Financial Technologies Holdings Ltd., would acquire a 49% stake in Network International for 2 billion dirham (US$539 million or 412 million euros), Abraaj Capital noted in a news release.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the acquisition could be finalized by the first quarter of 2011, the company noted in the release.

Network International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Emirates NBD, serves approximately 70 banks and financial institutions in the Middle East and North Africa region. Its network includes more than 17,000 merchants that operate in excess of 28,000 outlets and deploy some 45,000 point-of-sale terminals.

The Dubai-based company also manages a network of more than 700 ATMs, and it has merchant acquiring and processing partnerships with such leading global networks as American Express Co., China UnionPay, Diners Club International and JCB International.

Abraaj Capital is the largest private equity group in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Since its inception in 2002, it has raised nearly US$7 billion and has distributed almost US$3 billion to its investors.

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