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SafeCharge becomes latest payments processor to be snapped up as it accepts £700mln bid

Canada’s Nuvei has offered 436p for every SafeCharge share, which bosses have urged shareholders to accept
paying online
Payments processing is a growing business as more people switch to digital from cash

SafeCharge International PLC (LON:SCH) has agreed to be taken out by Canadian outfit Nuvei in a £700mln deal – the latest in a series of acquisitions in the booming payments processing industry.

London-listed SafeCharge is a credit card clearing company for the online gambling industry and counts Paddy Power Betfair plc (LON:PPB) among its clients.

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Nuvei, which used to be called Pivotal Payments and is the largest non-bank payment processor in Canada, has offered US$5.55 in cash (£4.36) for every SafeCharge share.

Unsurprisingly, SafeCharge’s stock rose 21% higher on the back of the bid to 425.1p – not far below the offer price.

Bosses of London-listed SafeCharge have recommended that shareholders accept the offer, which is a 25% premium to Tuesday’s closing price of 350p.

The company’s major shareholder, Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, who owns a 68.3% stake, has already agreed to sell his shares to Nuvei.

‘Compelling value’

“The board is unanimously recommending this all-cash offer by Nuvei to buy SafeCharge at an attractive premium, which represents compelling value for SafeCharge shareholders,” said chairman Roger Withers.

Chief executive David Avgi added: “The acquisition should enable SafeCharge to benefit from Nuvei's North American footprint and sales and marketing capability to fulfil and accelerate its growth ambitions.”

Nuvei boss Philip Fayer said the tie-up would create a “truly global, leading, payments technology solution provider with significant scale”.

Nuvei’s acquisition of SafeCharge is the latest such deal in the sector as companies look to build their presence in the growing payments processing business.

Payment processors in demand

Demand for electronic payments services has boomed in recent years as more and more people switch to digital from cash.

Industry giant Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) invested US$300mln into Network International Holdings PLC (LON:NETW) as part of the latter’s recent initial public offering in London.

Mastercard was at it again as it fought rival Visa (NYSE:V) for Earthport PLC (LON:EPO), although Visa eventually won that battle with a US$250mln bid.

More recently, Worldpay merged with US payments peer FIS in a deal worth US$35bn, less than a year after it was sold to Vantiv.

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