Bill Foley-backed Spac nears $9bn deal to buy Paysafe

Blackstone and CVC have agreed to list Paysafe at a $9bn valuation via a merger with a blank-check company launched by billionaire Bill Foley.

The deal triples the private equity firms’ investment three years after buying out the UK fintech group, said people briefed on the deal.

Foley Trasimene Acquisition II, the special purpose acquisition company that listed in August on the New York Stock Exchange raising $1.47bn, plans to announce a deal as early as Monday, said the people briefed about the transaction. 

Mr Foley’s investment vehicle will also raise close to $2bn in additional funds from institutional investors, making Paysafe’s return to public markets one of the largest blank-cheque deals of the year.

The latest deal involving Spacs, which raise cash on the stock market and seek to buy a private company to take public, highlights how Wall Street’s hottest financial structure is being used for ever-larger transactions.

At a $9bn valuation including debt and additional investments, Paysafe’s deal would be just behind Churchill Capital III’s merger with MultiPlan for $11bn. This week, Dyal Capital said it was in talks to merge with Owl Rock Capital and go public via a blank-cheque vehicle in a deal that would value the two asset managers at a combined $13bn. 

The acquisition of the Isle of Man-based digital payments specialist is the latest in a wave of deals in the sector that has seen several private equity players profit handsomely from their bet on online transactions growing exponentially.

Milan-listed payments group Nexi recently acquired for €7.8bn Danish rival Nets, a group controlled by buyout groups Advent, Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman. The Italian company also recently finalised a €15bn merger with domestic rival Sia. Earlier in the year, French payment services group Worldline snapped up local rival Ingenico for €7.8bn. 

Paysafe, which has been dominant in handling online gambling transactions as well as helping retailers process customers’ online payments, was acquired by Blackstone and CVC for £3bn in 2017. As part of the deal with Mr Foley’s Spac the private equity duo would retain a stake in Paysafe, said people briefed about the matter.

Mr Foley’s move comes as private and public online payments companies have experienced a boom over the past year as coronavirus-forced lockdowns prompted millions of people globally to buy more goods and services over the internet. 

For the billionaire investor, this is the latest in a series of Spac deals in the financial services sector. In 2018, he set up a blank-cheque company with former Blackstone dealmaker Chinh Chu to acquire life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life for $1.8bn.

Blackstone and CVC declined to comment.

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