Abraaj unit nabs Indian remittance firm, eyes more buys

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Card payment processor Network International, which is owned by Abraaj Capital and Dubai's largest bank, said on Sunday it has bought a majority stake in an online remittance firm held by a unit of India's biggest media group.

Network International CEO Bhairav Trivedi said the purchase of a stake in TimesofMoney, a unit of India's Times Group, was a prelude to further acquisitions by the Dubai-based firm.

He declined to give the exact size of the stake nor financial terms of the deal but said it was within the industry average of ten to 15 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

"Our strategy is to become the dominant payments player in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia," Trivedi said at a press conference.

"We have a significant amount of money set aside and we will be active in the next couple of years. When we look at acquisitions, they will be complementary services across these geographies," Trivedi said.

He said the firm was looking for technology in certain areas such as mobile payments, pre-pay cards and home delivery payments.

Network International is 49 percent owned by private equity house Abraaj Capital and 51-percent held by Emirates NBD .

Dubai-based Abraaj has been expected to offload its stake in the card payment processor, either through a public listing in either London or Hong Kong or a private sale, Trivedi said. However, there were no plans in place at the current time, he added.

Deloitte, FT Advisors Ltd and AZB & Partners advised Network International, while UBS, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Nishith Desai Associates assisted Times Internet Limited, TimesofMoney's previous owner.

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