CVC Capital has targeted the growing market for online payments, buying a majority stake in digtial wallet provider Skrill for 600 million (£511m).
Skrill, a direct competitor of PayPal, provides digital wallet services to 35 million account holders in over 200 countries worldwide, with around 150,000 merchants using its payment gateway solution. Skrill also provides the payment platform for a number of major on-line gambling sites.
The UK firm, which previously traded as Moneybookers after launching in 2001, recorded revenues of over £200 million in 2012.
Following the acquisition, CVC, one of the world's largest private equity firms, now has a majority stake in the online payments company, taking over the controlling stake from Investcorp. Investcorp will retain a minority stake in the firm.
Peter Rutland, Senior Managing Director of CVC pledged to support the growth of Skrill in the market for online payments.
"Skrill is a high quality business that has demonstrated its ability to grow rapidly into a market leading provider of online payments serving the online gaming, gambling, digital media and e-commerce industries," Rutland said.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to invest in Skrill and support its management team as they continue to grow their range of online payment options across the globe."
TechMarketView research director Peter Roe commented that the deal would benefit all parties, with Skrill receiving a boost to its growing payments business.
"This deal appears good news all round. Investcorp receives an 8-fold return on the initial investment and retains a minority stake. CVC now have an investment with a strong position in the rapidly-evolving payments industry and Skrill will have access to more expertise and capital as it develops the business."
Roe added that the deal highlights the boom in alternative payment methods, supported by the proliferation of mobile devices. This wave of change is likely to have repercussions for the big UK banks, he said, which will have to adapt to changes in the payments market.
"The Payments world is set for a period of significant change. The catalysts for this change are the rapid rise in smartphone penetration and online transactions and the ready acceptance of mobile apps and digital wallets," Roe commented.
"The forces unleashed by the evolution of payments and the rise of mobile will also have significant implications for the larger banks. As new competitors emerge, they will now have to update their systems and customer interface more rapidly and more comprehensively than would have otherwise been the case."
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