Mastercard drops bid for UK's Earthport

FILE PHOTO: A Mastercard logo is seen on a credit card in this picture illustration August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

(Reuters) - Mastercard Inc said on Friday its offer window to buy payments firm Earthport Plc had lapsed, which potentially clears the way for rival Visa Inc to make a bid for the British company.

Earthport, which offers a lower-cost option to traditional payments systems, has been at the heart of a bidding battle between Mastercard and Visa since the end of December.

The company, which had earlier backed Mastercard’s bid, most recently urged shareholders to accept Visa’s higher offer.

“(Mastercard) has today exercised its right to terminate the cooperation agreement entered into by Bidco and Earthport with immediate effect,” the company said in a statement, adding it had valid acceptance from only 0.29 percent shareholders of Earthport.

Earthport’s London-listed shares slumped 23.9 percent to 36.4 pence at 0119 GMT.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli