×

UPDATE 1-Nets CEO sees "considerable interest" from potential buyers

(adds share price, Q2 results, background)

COPENHAGEN, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Nets A/S, Scandinavia's largest payments processor, is seeing "considerable interest" from potential buyers amid a wave of M&A activity, the company's chief executive said on Thursday.

Payments firms have become targets for credit card companies and banks looking to capitalize on a switch from cash to payments by smartphones or other mobile devices and Nets said in July that it had been approached by potential buyers.

U.S. payment giants Visa and Mastercard are both seen as suitors for Nets, which has a current market capitalisation of 29.16 billion Danish crowns ($4.61 billion) according to Thomson Reuters data.

"The talks have been going on relatively long, so it seems there is considerable interest," CEO Bo Nilsson told Reuters after Nets posted second quarter results.

Nets could be the next big deal in the sector following a flurry of acquisitions, including U.S. credit card payments processor Vantiv finalizing a deal to buy Britain's biggest payments processor Worldpay, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters last week.

French payments specialist Ingenico has already scooped up Bambora, a Swedish rival to Nets, in a 1.5 billion euro deal.

"We have seen an extreme level of (M&A) activity lately (...) It's clear to me that we're entering a period of consolidation in Europe in line with what we've seen in the United States," Nilsson said.

"As one of the biggest and most developed operators on the payment services market, I'm not surprised that some see Nets as a brick in that puzzle," he added.

Nets shares rose more than 10 percent following the news in July that it had approached by potential buyers, for the first time trading above its September 2016 IPO price of 150 crowns.

On Thursday, Nets shares initially traded lower after it failed to deliver an expected upgrade of its organic growth guidance for 2017 in its quarterly results.

However, net profit of 333 million Danish crowns ($52.67 million) in the second quarter came in ahead of analyst expectations and its shares were up 2.3 percent to 149.30 Danish crowns at 0810 GMT. ($1 = 6.3221 Danish crowns) ($1 = 6.3241 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; editing by Alexander Smith)