RLPC-Buyers line up for card payment firm Nets-bankers

LONDON Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:47pm EST

LONDON Jan 15 (Reuters) - The sale of Europe's second-largest card payment services company Nets Holding is gathering pace as a number of private equity firms and one trade buyer made it through to the next round of an auction, banking sources said on Tuesday.

Nets, which is privately owned by shareholders including Nordea Bank, DNB and Danske Bank, was put up for sale last year when JP Morgan was hired to advise on the auction, which could fetch up to 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion).

The sale is attracting interest from a number of private equity firms eager to do deals following a lack of M&A in 2013.

Buyout firms Advent and Bain, which jointly own British payment processing company WorldPay, teamed up with Danish state-owned pension fund ATP to bid for Nets and have made it through to the next round of bidding, as have Permira and CPP, which are also working on a joint bid, the sources said.

Nordic Capital and Denmark's TryghedsGruppen are also through to the next stage of the sale, as well as Silverlake Partners. EQT could also bid, the source said.

Payment processing firm Atos also advanced to the next round of the auction, due to take place on Feb. 28, the sources added.

All of the potential bidders either declined to comment or were not immediately available to comment. Nets declined to comment.

Bankers are working on debt packages of around 1.2 billion euros - or around 6.5 times Nets' approximate 183 million euros earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) - to back private equity bids, the sources said.

The debt could be a mix of senior leveraged loans and subordinated debt and is likely to be denominated in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish crowns, as well as euros or dollars, they added.

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