Nigeria: Helios Acquires Majority Stake in Interswitch

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Helios Investment Partners, a private equity firm dedicated to making growth investments across Africa has acquired a majority stake in Interswitch and thus have become a shareholder of the largest transaction switching and electronic payment processing service provider in Nigeria and owner of the card scheme Verve.

A statement from the company quoted the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch, Mitchell Elegbe as saying that the company is delighted to have "Helios join our shareholder base as our core investor and their involvement is happening at a time when Nigeria is getting set for the next phase of growth in electronic payments"

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

The strategic partnership and the remaining shareholders will 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 disbursements. The company developed and administers Verve, the leading card scheme in Nigeria .

The Verve card, which is currently issued by 21 out of the 24 banks in Nigeria, 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.