Payments processor Network International readies London listing

LONDON (Reuters) - Network International, the largest payment processing firm across the Middle East and Africa, plans to list on the London Stock Exchange, it said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The Dubai-based company, jointly owned by Dubai bank Emirates NBD and private equity firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic, said it would trade on the LSE’s main market and have a free float of at least 25 percent of its issued share capital.

The initial public offering (IPO) would be the first international IPO in London this year. The first domestic listing was that of law firm DWF Group on March 11, raising 75 million pounds ($99.6 million).

Network International’s listing would value the company at about $3 billion, banking sources said, with the company saying it would include stock to be sold by existing shareholders.

Tepid investor appetite for stock offerings against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, U.S. political tensions and a global economic slowdown has deterred companies from going public over the past few months.

Proceeds from European listings are down 97 percent for the first two months of the year, Refinitiv data shows.

Volkswagen on Wednesday halted preparations for the IPO of its trucks unit Traton until market conditions improve, stalling what was expected to be Germany’s biggest share offering this year.

Network International generated revenue of $298 million in 2018, with core earnings of $152 million.

The company, which appointed former Worldpay CEO Ron Kalifa as chairman, has grown revenue outside its United Arab Emirates base in the wider Africa and Middle East region since Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic bought a 49 percent stake in 2015.

Payments processors have been in increasing demand in recent years as consumers worldwide switch to digital forms of payment from cash, commanding impressive valuations and often achieving high returns for investors.

Italian banking services provider Nexi is hoping to complete Europe’s biggest share sale of 2019 in the second quarter, targeting a valuation of 8 billion euros ($9 billion).

Network International was established as a subsidiary of NBD in 1994.

Reporting by Clara Denina; Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar in Dubai; Editing by Simon Jessop and David Goodman