According to Bloomberg, Interswitch might really be on the verge of becoming a unicorn. That is if the proposed sale to an unidentified buyer goes through. It is said that the deal could be worth up to a billion dollars.

Whispers about a sale seem at odds with talk that the Nigerian payments company is preparing to IPO in Lagos and London. But that could also just mean that they are distributing their eggs into many baskets. So far, everyone is keeping mum on the subject.

A fat bone for the patient dogs

Who stands to gain from a billion dollar Interswitch exit?

Well, Helios, obviously, which is said to have acquired a 52 percent stake in Interswitch for $92 million dollars.

But it’s not just Helios. The International Finance Corporation’s projects database hosts a summary of proposed investments that dates back to 2011.

“The current shareholders of Interswitch include Helios Investment Partners (“Helios”), Adlevo Capital Partners (“Adlevo”), Techinvest Limited, Mr. Dotun Sulaiman, and some Nigerian banks. The Company recently completed a process for the sale of a significant portion of its shareholding from existing shareholders to a strategic financial partner. Helios was selected as the preferred strategic financial partner and it invested along with Adlevo. IFC has been invited to acquire a stake in Interswitch.”

It looks like the IFC invested $10 million itself.

Perhaps the Nigerian banks who first invested in Interswitch, but reportedly jumped at the opportunity to make handsome profits by selling their stakes to Helios should have been more patient?

Update 4-Feb-2016: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that Citigroup was the prospective buyer. Citigroup is merely playing an advisory role, in the possible transaction between Helios, Interswitch, and the buyer-who-must-not-be-named. It’s been corrected now, and I apologise for the oversight. 

Bankole Oluwafemi Author

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