Natixis Payments Explores Ingenico Takeover Bid

(Bloomberg) -- Natixis SA is among companies exploring a potential combination with French payments processor Ingenico Group SA following a string of deals in the sector.

Natixis Payment Solutions has held preliminary talks with Ingenico, the French bank said Thursday, confirming a Bloomberg report that the two companies were discussing a deal. Edenred, a French provider of prepaid vouchers for products and services, has also indicated interest, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ingenico rose as much as 15 percent in Paris trading, the biggest jump in more than 15 years, while Natixis and Edenred declined amid a broader market selloff. Ingenico, in a separate statement, said it has received preliminary approaches, without naming potential bidders. An official for Edenred didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Paris-based Ingenico is one of the few large firms to remain independent in the rapidly consolidating payments industry in Europe. In one of the most notable transactions in recent months, Atos SE’s Worldline agreed to buy SIX Group AG’s payments business for about 2.3 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in May following a months-long bidding war for the Swiss asset. Natixis had also submitted a bid, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

For Natixis investors, “the potential size of a payments deal may come as something of a surprise,” Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Jonathan Tyce and Georgi Gunchev wrote in a note. However, “the scale delivered will ultimately more than offset any initial concerns.”

Natixis has bolstered its “war chest” to more than 2.5 billion euros through the recent sale of some retail businesses to its parent, Groupe BPCE, they wrote. That would have to be replenished should it be successful in taking over Ingenico, which has a market value of more than 4 billion euros.

Ingenico shares rose 13 percent as of 9:52 a.m. in Paris, while Natixis declined 3.9 percent and Edenred fell 1.7 percent. That leaves Natixis with a market capitalization of 17 billion euros, while Edenred’s is about 7.4 billion euros.

Private equity firms flush with cash have been weighing a takeover of Ingenico, people familiar with the matter said in June. Potential suitors at that time included CVC Capital Partners, Hellman & Friedman and Bain Capital, they said.

Ingenico had fallen 29 percent this year through Wednesday, trailing rivals including Dutch payment firm Adyen NV, whose shares have more than doubled since its initial public offering in June.

Natixis said it would inform the market “if and when necessary” on further steps and that it remains committed to strong financial discipline.

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