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Fintech firm Fiserv raises offer for Monitise to $98 million

(Reuters) - U.S. financial technology provider Fiserv made an improved offer for Monitise worth about 75 million pounds ($98 million) on Monday, hoping to secure backing from the British financial services technology group's investors.

Fiserv's earlier offer, which valued the group at about 70 million pounds, drew criticism from Monitise's investors led by Cavendish Asset Management, for being too low, given that the British group was worth over 1 billion pounds three year ago.

Fiserv's final offer of 3.1 pence in cash per share represents a premium of 34.8 percent over Monitise's closing price on June 12, the last before the initial offer was made.

Monitise said its directors unanimously recommended the increased and final offer, which is higher than the original 2.9 pence per share bid.

Fiserv urged shareholders to accept the offer, pointing to the fact that Monitise's board had stated that they would need to consider raising further capital and divestment of the business, were the deal to fall through.

The values of payments firms have surged and mergers and acquisitions have proliferated in the sector as shoppers switch from cash to paying for purchases by smartphones or other mobile devices.

AIM-listed Monitise blazed a trail by linking banks and mobile operators to build a business capable of handling billions of dollars in mobile payments, purchases and money transfers.

But it has faced increased competition from free mobile payment systems offered by the likes of Alphabet Inc and Apple Inc.

Banco Santander, Monitise's top shareholder with a 4.67 percent stake, had submitted a letter of intent to back the deal, as had Visa Inc, a large customer and investor with a 2.41 percent stake.

This alongside Monitise directors' shares, meant that Fiserv had letters of intent or irrevocable undertakings for 229.6 million shares, representing 9.9 percent of Monitise's existing issued share capital.

Cavendish did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely and Susan Thomas)