Visa makes $250 million offer for Earthport

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Visa has agreed to acquire the bank payments provider Earthport for 198 million pounds ($250.6 million U.S.), pending approval from Earthport's shareholders.

Visa International Service Association, a unit of Visa, is offering a price of four times more per Earthport share to consummate the cash deal made Thursday, according to a London Stock Exchange filing.

Visa declined to provide any other comments regarding the offer. However, during recent earnings reports Visa has cited its interest in the growing cross-border payments segment. The company has had its sights on the London-based Earthport and made an initial offer in November.

Two years ago, Earthport expanded its global payments network into India, with Axis Bank becoming the first Indian bank to partner with the cross-border payment provider.

The company was an early entrant in the digital currency market by partnering with network provider Ripple Labs in 2014. That partnership allowed Earthport to dabble with the blockchain cryptocurrency technology and real-time payments to advance its system of allowing clients to send funds across borders without going through a correspondent bank.

A year after the Ripple partnership, Earthport was expanding its use of blockchain's distributed ledger technology for faster payment delivery and a risk management tool.

Earthport, established in 1997, has served banks, money transfer businesses, e-commerce companies and payments aggregators. Its top bank clients included Bank of America, HSBC, Western Union, Xoom, BNP Paribas, American Express, Hyperwallet, Transferwise and Payoneer.

While establishing itself as a lower-cost alternative to traditional payments systems, Earthport's value on the London Stock Exchange secondary market had fallen, according to Reuters. As such, the company reportedly was seeking a change in its strategy.

In related news this week, China's Ant Financial was reportedly in talks to acquire WorldFirst, which is based in London.

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M&A Cross border payments U.K.