Network International buys stake in Indian firm
Dubai, November 25, 2012
UAE-based Network International, a leading provider of payment solutions in the region, said on Sunday it has bought a majority stake in an online remittance firm held by a unit of India's biggest media group.
The Network International is 49-per cent owned by private equity house Abraaj Capital and 51-per cent held by Emirates NBD, the largest bank in Dubai.
Network International chief executive Bhairav Trivedi said the purchase of a stake in TimesofMoney, a unit of India's Times Group, was a prelude to further acquisitions by the Dubai-based firm.
He declined to give the exact size of the stake nor financial terms of the deal but said it was within the industry average of 10-15 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).
"Our strategy is to become the dominant payments player in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia," Trivedi said at a press conference.
"We have a significant amount of money set aside and we will be active in the next couple of years. When we look at acquisitions, they will be complementary services across these geographies," Trivedi said.
He said the firm was looking for technology in certain areas such as mobile payments, pre-pay cards and home delivery payments.
Dubai-based Abraaj has been expected to offload its stake in the card payment processor, either through a public listing in either London or Hong Kong or a private sale, Trivedi said. However, there were no plans in place at the current time, he added.
TimesofMoney CEO Avijit Nanda said, "We are excited by the endless opportunities this partnership promises. We are confident that our respective complementary strengths will not only allow us to reach new markets but also help existing retail and institutional customers with enhanced offerings."
"Our business has grown exponentially over the last five years, and we expect that with a global player like Network International coming in, this would help take us to the next level," noted Nanda.
"The backing of the Times Group over the last 11 years has contributed significantly in establishing our business as a formidable digital payments company, and we will look forward to their active participation as we embark on this new journey with Network International," he added.
Deloitte, FT Advisors and AZB & Partners advised NI, while UBS, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Nishith Desai Associates assisted Times Internet Limited, TimesofMoney's previous owner. – Reuters and TradeArabia News Service
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