Three major PE investors are making moves in European payments following a flurry of corporate M&A activity in the sector. Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners have joined to make a preliminary £2.9 billion bid for Paysafe (LON: PAYS), while in a separate deal, Permira has agreed to acquire a stake in Swedish startup Klarna, with the Financial Times reporting the firm will pay $250 million for a 10% interest.
Following their 590p per-share proposal, CVC and Blackstone now have until 18 August to make a formal offer for Paysafe—which provides pre-paid cards, online wallets and other payments services—leaving open a window for a possible counter offer. Klarna, meanwhile, is a supplier of payments services for ecommerce companies that's received substantial prior backing from Sequoia, Atomico, General Atlantic and several other VCs.
The moves further highlight ongoing acquisitive interest in the European payments sector, which has been the site of a flurry of big deals this month as investors increasingly target some of the companies fueling the rapid growth of ecommerce. Many of those recent deals have been conducted by corporate acquirers, including Vantiv's £9.1 billion merger with Worldpay and Ingenico's recent agreement to take over Bambora for €1.5 billion.
Private equity's appetite for the European software space as a whole is also ramping up. Last year brought an all-time high of 275 completed transactions in the space, according to the PitchBook Platform, and PE firms have already finalized 156 deals in 2017, on pace for a new record. This year's notable deals include the NOK45 billion (around €4.7 billion) takeover of Visma by an HgCapital-led consortium, as well as Cinven, Permira and Mid Europa's $3.25 billion purchase of Polish online marketplace Allegro.
PitchBook Platform subscribers can check out the full data on PE investment in European software.