Nasdaq to Buy Newfoundland’s Verafin for $2.75 Billion in Cash

Nasdaq Inc. agreed to acquire Verafin, a provider of technology that fights financial fraud and money laundering, for $2.75 billion in cash.

Verafin, based in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, provides a cloud-based platform that helps customers detect and report financial crimes, according to a statement Thursday. Its current clients include 2,000 banks and credit unions in North America, and Nasdaq aims to expand those services to the largest banks and second-tier institutions, including in Europe.

“Financial crime, including money laundering, is among the biggest and most difficult challenges that banks face around the world,” Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Adena Friedman said in a presentation. “Regulators are becoming more demanding of banks, brokerages, fintechs and other financial intermediaries as the frontline defense against criminals using the financial system to fund their illicit activities.”

Nasdaq to Buy Newfoundland’s Verafin for $2.75 Billion in Cash

About $2 trillion is laundered a year, and the $12.5 billion market for combating financial crime is expected to grow 17% through 2024, Nasdaq said. The purchase fits a strategy laid out at the company’s investor day earlier this month, when Friedman said it was seeking acquisitions to provide more software and analytics to the financial industry. The exchange operator already provides trade and market surveillance for its clients.

Many banks are using old systems that aren’t very effective at detecting money laundering and financial crime, Valerie Bannert-Thurner, a senior vice president at Nasdaq, said in an interview. “It’s such a big problem, fines are huge and it’s a big worry for CEOs for banks, and it has to be solved better.”

Nasdaq shares rose 2.3% to $125.60 as of 12:49 p.m. in New York. They’re up 17% this year. The deal is expected to boost earnings per share starting in 2022, the company said.

Evercore Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were the lead advisers to Nasdaq, which was also advised by Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Toronto-Dominion Bank. Verafin was advised by William Blair & Co.

Verafin’s headquarters will remain in St. John’s, and its executive leadership team will continue to run the company, according to the statement. The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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