" ITREALMS: Helios acquires major stake in Interswitch

Monday, January 17, 2011

Helios acquires major stake in Interswitch

Helios Investment Partners (HIP), a private equity firm dedicated to making growth investments across Africa has acquired a majority stake in Interswitch Nigeria.

With this development HIP has become a shareholder of the largest transaction switching and electronic payment processing service provider in Nigeria and owner of the leading card scheme Verve.

The Managing Director, Interswitch Nigeria, Mr. Mitchell Elegbe confirmed this in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online at the weekend.

He noted that as Helios has join the firm’s shareholders as the core investor and its involvement is happening at a time when Nigeria is getting set for the next phase of growth in electronic payments.

Elegbe said Helios has demonstrated deep domain knowledge in the payments space combined with its leadership in African private equity, stressing that Interswitch believes the partnership will be highly synergistic and would propel Interswitch to become the leading payments company in Africa.

He explained that this strategic partnership and the remaining shareholders would further enhance Interswitch’s strong growth and accelerate the company’s pan-African expansion plans as well as build on its reputation for innovative applications developed for the African market and a service valued by banks for high reliability.

“Interswitch facilitates the exchange of value between service providers by providing a secure shared payment infrastructure and integrated message broker solutions for financial transactions, eCommerce, telecommunications value-added services, eBilling, payment collections and disbursementsm” he said, adding that the company developed and administers Verve, the leading card scheme in Nigeria.

According to him, Verve card is currently issued by 21 out of the 24 banks in Nigeria and is the first and only chip and PIN card accepted across multiple payment channels including ATMs, Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, online, mobile and at banks, and enjoys the largest range of value added services.

The company has been at the forefront of the development and growth of the e-payment sector in Nigeria, which is evidenced by its unique position of being the only switching and processing company connected to all banks in the country as well as to over 10,000 ATMs and 11,000 PoS terminals.

Aside, the company is the leading processor for MasterCard and the market leader in merchant acquiring/PoS, a segment that is still emerging and has potential for tremendous growth in Nigeria.

The completion of the switchover from magnetic strip cards to chip and PIN cards in 2010, is expected to further accelerate growth and usage of e-payments across the country. Nigeria is the first country in Africa to have completed this migration, and is one of the few countries in the world to have completed the migration in under a year.

According to the Managing Partner and Co-founder of Helios, Babatunde Soyoye, “Interswitch is a Nigerian success story having been led by a superb, highly competent, innovative and entrepreneurial all-Nigerian management team”, and benefiting from the foresight and support of its founding shareholders, along with a supportive regulator in the Central Bank Nigeria.

The statement further informed that Adlevo Capital, a technology-oriented private equity firm focused on Africa would be co-investing with Helios on this transaction. FT Advisors Limited, KPMG, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and a team of industry specialists are acting as advisors to Helios. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Aelex are serving as legal advisors to Helios. FCMB Capital Markets Limited is acting as the lead advisor to the selling shareholders.

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