Dubai – MENA Herald: Network International (the “Company”), a leading payment solutions provider in the Middle East and Africa, today announced that affiliates of global investment firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic have agreed to acquire a 49% stake in the Company from The Abraaj Group (“Abraaj”). Emirates NBD will continue to own a 51% stake in the Company.

Established in 1994, Network International is the leading payments processing business focused on the Middle East and Africa. The Company provides services across the entire payments ecosystem with a focus on Merchant Acquiring services, in which it processes transactions for merchants covering online, offline and mobile, and Issuing Processing services, in which it processes payment transactions for banks. Network International offers a number of innovative, tech-enabled solutions to its clients including prepaid and loyalty solutions. The Company is the only third party payments processor globally to have a Principal Membership agreement with both Visa International and MasterCard.

Abdulla Qassem, Chairman of Network International, commented, “We are thrilled to partner with Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic, two of the world’s leading investment firms, as well as our existing partner Emirates NBD. We also recognise the significant contribution that Abraaj has made to the expansion of the business in the last five years. As Network International enters an exciting new stage in our growth and development across the Middle East and Africa, we are confident that General Atlantic and Warburg Pincus will be invaluable strategic partners given their deep expertise in the payments sector.”

Speaking on the exit of Network International, Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Partner at The Abraaj Group added, “The Abraaj Group understood the growth opportunity that Network International represented for the payments sector in the region in 2011. We are delighted to have worked with Network International and Emirates NBD in validating that thesis to create value and to have contributed to the development of a regional champion in the financial services and payments sectors over the last five years. We wish Network International every success as they partner with General Atlantic, Warburg Pincus and Emirates NBD who are fully committed to continuing this success story into the future.”

Emirates NBD and Abraaj have played a pivotal role in the growth of the Company by augmenting the senior management team and by enabling product and geographic diversification. In addition, Emirates NBD and Abraaj helped facilitate greater market access across Sub-Saharan Africa, which provided Network International with a strong platform for further growth and expansion.

Shayne Nelson, Group Chief Executive Officer of Emirates NBD, commented, “We are pleased to continue our strong support for Network International which has built a market-leading position in the MENA region over the last two decades. This is an exciting new phase in the evolution of the business and we look forward to working with the company on its future path to growth.”

“We are proud to partner with Network International, the innovative market leader in the rapidly growing digital payments in the Middle East and Africa,” said Gabriel Caillaux, Managing Director of General Atlantic. “We are seeing a rapid rise in consumer demand for electronic payments due to the growth in card usage, internet adoption, and smartphone penetration. Network International is well positioned for growth, as it continues to make transactions simpler, more affordable, and more reliable for the entire value chain of banks, merchants, and consumers.”

“Network International benefits from a leading market position in an exciting market and region, an excellent management team, and best-in-class products and services.  As the payments sector continues to benefit from long-term structural growth, we are delighted to partner with CEO Bhairav Trivedi, his talented management team and Emirates NBD, to help Network International extend its leadership position across the Middle East and Africa,” commented Joseph Schull, Managing Director and Head of EMEA for Warburg Pincus.

“Having leading investment firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic as shareholders of Network International bodes well for the company’s ambitious growth and expansion plans. I look forward to working closely with the new board of directors as we embark on the next stage of our journey that I believe will take us to unprecedented heights across the region,” said Bhairav Trivedi, CEO of Network International.

Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic were advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Perella Weinberg Partners, Morgan Stanley, and Citi. Emirates NBD was advised by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.