NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Private equity firms Advent International and Bain Capital have held conversations with Lazard about Worldpay, the London-based payment processing company they acquired from Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) in 2010, a source close to Worldpay revealed on Wednesday, May 13.
Few details of Lazard's role have been revealed, and the investment bank declined to comment when contacted, even to confirm whether the conversations have led to its appointment. However, the owners are likely to be ready to hire a bank to advise on their options for an exit after a five-year holding period.
The two are eyeing an initial public offering either on the London or the New York markets, according to a report on Sky News, but may also sound out a small number of alternative buyers in the coming months. Sky suggested an IPO could value the company at between £5.6 billion and £8 billion ($8.8 billion and $12.6 billion), if it traded at between 14 and 20 times a projected pre-tax profit for 2015 of around £400 million.
Worldpay processes 26 million transactions a day, according to its website and operates in more than 40 countries.
Royal Bank was forced to sell the unit and a number of other big operations as a conditions for European Union acceptance of its £45.5 billion U.K. government bailout during the financial crisis. The bank is now a shadow of its former self, still losing money and still more than 80% taxpayer owned. The British government has recently been reported ready to start selling stakes in the bank even though its share price is well below the price of over 500 pence a share at which it bought the stockRoyal Bank of Scotland closed up 0.6% on Wednesday at 353 pence a share.
Elsewhere, Swedish and U.K. private equity firm IK Investment partners has reportedly received private equity approaches for a secondary buyout of its Hong Kong-based, British Virgin Islands-registered trust and custodial services business Vistra Group, which might derail its plans for a Hong Kong IPO.
According to Bloomberg, Carlyle Group,Baring Private Equity Asia and CVC Capital Partners are among second round bidders in the auction for the financial services firm, for which IK is hoping to get about $900 million.
Vistra filed for a listing in Hong Kong earlier this year, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley listed as joint sponsors for an IPO, but IK has been running a dual track process, according to Bloomberg.
IK declined to comment when approached by The Deal on Wednesday.