THE AFRICA BAZAAR Staff Writer
November 27, 2015
The Abraaj Group has agreed to sell its 49 percent stake in Network International, a Middle East and Africa payment solutions provider, to global investment firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic.
The deal was announced Thursday.
Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Partner at the Abraaj group, said the firm feel gratified to have played a pivotal role in the growth of Network International, and to have contributed to its development as a regional champion in the financial services and payments sectors in the MEA region and to have provided the payment provider with a strong platform for further growth and expansion as it embark on its new partnerships with Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic.
Abraaj first invested in Network International in 2011 and over the course of five years worked in collaboration with Emirates NBD on strategic plans for the payment provider, including augmenting the senior management team, enabling product and geographic diversification that have created value, increase in growth results, greater market access and platform across sub Saharan Africa.
Emirates NBD, which owns the remaining 51 percent stake in Network International, will remain a partner.
Chief Executive Officer of Emirates NBD Shayne Nelson said the company is “this is an exiting new phase in the evolution of the business and we look forward to working with the company on its future path to growth.”
Gabriel Caillaux, Managing Director of General Atlantic said the firm is “seeing a rapid rise in consumer demand for electronic payments due to the growth in card usage, internet adoption and smartphone penetration” in an exciting market and region and is proud to partner with Network International, which is well positioned to seize the growth opportunity the Middle East and Africa markets offers “as it continues to make transactions simpler, more affordable and more reliable for the entire value chain of banks, merchants and consumers.”
Network International was established in 1994 to provide payments processing services for businesses in the Middle East and Africa with a special focus on processing payment transactions for merchants, including online, offline and mobile and issuing payment processing services for banking transactions.
The company is the only third party payment processors globally to be included in a Principal Membership Agreement with both Visa International and MasterCard. Network International offers a number of innovative, tech-enabled solutions to its clients, including prepaid and loyalty solutions.
Joseph Schull, Managing Director and Head of EMEA for Warburg Pincus. said as the payments sector continues to benefit from long-term structural growth, the deal offers his firm an opportunity to work with “talented management team and Emirates NBD to help Network International extend its leadership position across the Middle East and Africa,”
Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic were advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer LLP, Pual, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Perella Weinberg Partners, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Emirates NBD was advised by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
Speaking about the new partnerships, Chairman of Network International Abdulla Qassem said the company is thrilled about its new partnership with two of the world’s leading investment firms as well as our existing partner Emirate NBD and thank the Abraaj team for the “significant contribution made to the expansion of the business in the last five years.”
“As Network International enters an exciting new stage in our growth and development across the Middle East and Africa, we are confident that general Atlantic and Warburg Pincus will be invaluable strategic partners given their deep expertise in the payments sectors,” said Qassem.
“Having leading investment firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic as shareholders of Network International bodes well for the company’s ambitious growth and expansion plans. I look forward to working closely with the new board of directors as we embark on the next stage of our journey that I believe will take us to unprecedented heights across the region,” said Bhaiva Trivedi.
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