March 26, 2019 / 12:57 PM / 5 months ago

Italy's Nexi prices IPO to value group at up to 6.4 billion euros

MILAN (Reuters) - Nexi on Tuesday priced shares in its initial public offering at between 8.5 and 10.35 euros each, valuing the Italian payments group at up to 6.4 billion euros ($7.2 billion) in what is set to be one of Europe’s biggest bourse listings this year.

Once a backwater of banking, the payment processing sector is now seen as one of the most lucrative and fast-growing businesses in the financial sector. According to McKinsey, global payments are set to reach $3 trillion a year in revenue by 2023 as more people switch from cash to digital payments.

Earlier this month Fidelity National Information Services Inc agreed to buy Worldpay for about $35 billion in the biggest deal to date in the fast-growing electronic payments industry.

Nexi’s private equity owners - Bain Capital, Advent and Clessidra - are looking to sell part of their current combined 93.2 percent holding in the offer which values Nexi at up to 8.1 billion euros including debt.

A stake of around 6.8 percent is held by a series of Italian banks including Banco BPM, Creval, Popolare di Sondrio and BPER Banca.

The fund owners, which acquired major control in 2015, are also aiming to raise up to 700 million euros in fresh cash for the group by issuing new shares.

According to sources familiar with the process, Nexi’s main shareholders are aiming to list up to 35 percent of the company, above the minimum of 25 percent required to be listed.

Shares are expected to start trading in April, Nexi said in a statement on Tuesday.

Earlier this year there was speculation Nexi could tie up with domestic rival SIA, whose main shareholders include state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Poste Italiane.

Last week Poste said it was reviewing options for SIA’s growth, including the possibility of acquisitions or a future merger with a rival.

Analysts said Nexi was well positioned in the relatively underdeveloped Italian digital payment market which still lags other European countries. But risks include the company’s debt levels and lack of geographical diversification.

Nexi said it will use proceeds from the share sale to cut debt to a projected 1.7 billion euros after deducting the costs of the IPO and the capital increase.

Last year Nexi had pro-forma adjusted core earnings (EBITDA) of 424 million euros. Over the next two years, initiatives already executed will add a further 95 million euros.

BofA Merrill Lynch, Banca IMI, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Mediobanca are joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners for the offer.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, writing by Valentina Za, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Catherine Evans

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