November 29, 2019 / 3:46 PM / 11 days ago

Africa-focused lender Bayport explores $800 mln London listing - sources

LONDON/JOHANNESBURG, Nov 29(Reuters) - Bayport Management, an African consumer lending company, is considering a London listing in the first half of 2020 that could value it at around $800 million, three sources familiar with matter said.

Bayport, which provides loans primarily to government employees, has hired Citi, JP Morgan and Standard Bank as joint global coordinators for the deal, two of the sources said.

The company, founded in 2002 by co-chief executives Stuart Stone and Grant Kurland, is also active in insurance. It has a technical listing on the Mauritius Stock Exchange, but its shares aren’t traded.

“The board is considering a number of strategic options, one of which could include an IPO (initial public offering),” a company spokeswoman said.

“We do have financial advisers, but we haven’t made a decision yet, and it’s too early for me to talk about a valuation range.”

She declined to give further details, but said Bayport’s strength was in the geographical diversity of its operations and in the fact it targets government employees and civil servants, who tend to have more job security than private sector workers.

Citi and JP Morgan did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Standard Bank could not immediately provide a comment outside of usual business hours.

Bayport calls itself an “at-source lender,” which it says means its business is less risky because loan repayments are typically deducted from the borrower’s salary. It operates in seven countries across sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania and Mozambique, and also has presences in Mexico and Colombia.

Bayport is one of two Africa-focused financial services firms believed to be targeting a London IPO in the first half of 2020.

Nigerian payments platform Interswitch is also expected to look for a London listing next year, after Visa Inc bought a stake in the firm earlier this year that gave it a valuation of $1 billion.

2019 has been a torrid year for the IPO market, particularly in London where Brexit worries have made stock markets volatile.

However, several international firms have completed sizeable listings on Britain’s main bourse, most recently mobile networks operator Helios Towers. (Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan and Emma Rumney; Editing by Mark Potter)

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