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Payments group Nexi extends $8 billion Nets merger talks

Elisa Anzolin
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Italian payments group Nexi is pictured inside their headquarters in Milan

By Elisa Anzolin

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's biggest payments group Nexi <NEXII.MI> has extended its exclusive merger talks with Nordic rival Nets to Nov. 16, it said on Wednesday as it reported stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings.

Nexi entered the exclusive discussions in early November over a potential $8 billion deal, which would follow an agreement struck with Milan-based SIA just a month ago for a multi-billion merger to create an Italian champion.

Talks between Nexi and Nets over an all-share merger, announced on Nov. 2, were initially due to last 10 days.

Nexi CEO Paolo Bertoluzzo told analysts discussions were progressing well but a bit more time was necessary to finalise "a few things" before closing the transaction.

"We're very keen to make it happen, both sides," he said.

Reporting quarterly results, Nexi said there had been a rebound in revenues in the summer months as economic activity in Italy picked up after a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, but that transaction volumes had slowed again in October.

The Rome government has been forced to introduce progressively tighter measures to fight a resurgence of the pandemic, including targeted lockdowns in the worst-hit areas.

Nexi, whose top investor once the SIA tie-up goes through will be Italian state lender CDP, serves around 900,000 retail outlets and manages 41.6 million payment cards in partnerships with banks.

It said it was better positioned to face the second wave of the pandemic, helped by a shift towards digital payments among consumers.

Nexi's third-quarter revenues rose 1% to 276 million euros, helped by the purchase in June of Intesa Sanpaolo's <ISP.MI> retailers' payment business. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 7% to 167 million euros.

"Nexi's ... results point to a beat across the board with revenues around 2% ahead of consensus and EBITDA around 4%," Jefferies said in a note.

"Company reiterates aspirational 2020 target of around 600 million euros of EBITDA."

Nexi shares closed down 0.9%.

(Reporting by Elisa Anzolin; Editing by Valentina Za/Pravin Char/Jane Merriman)