Euronet Worldwide to make a bid for Alphyra

PAYMENTS software company Euronet Worldwide is to make a bid for Alphyra, currently the subject of a proposed management buyout (MBO).

Reports yesterday said that Euronet Worldwide was willing to bid if the “conflicted position” of the Alphyra management team “can be sorted out.” The company’s chief executive and chairman, Michael Brown, reportedly said last Friday he was interested in acquiring the Irish payments firm. His remarks were made before the Alphyra MBO team upped their offer to €2.70 per share from an initial €2.45, putting a value of €88 million on the company.

Almost 35% of Alphyra shareholders have already accepted the €2.45 offer.

It was reported that Mr Brown has since reaffirmed his interest.

Mr Brown insisted, however, that Euronet be first allowed to examine Alphyra’s books, so it could have access to the same knowledge about the company as the inside MBO team.

He also said he was confident he could run Alphyra without the current management and added that Euronet Worldwide operated a similar business to Alphyra in 13 countries in Europe. Mr Brown called on the Irish authorities to ensure “a level playing field.” Mr Brown told The Sunday Times he had first been in discussions with

Alphyra on a possible alliance as early as last summer, but said terms could not be agreed. An Alphyra source reportedly said that Euronet Worldwide would need a partner in order to mount a bid for the company. Euronet, which is Nasdaq quoted, made losses of $6.5 million in the nine months to September 2002.

Alphyra chief executive John Nagle is leading the MBO offer through his Rendina vehicle. He recently said that a proposed bid from First Data Corporation (FDC) would be considered “hostile.” FDC has been planning a bid for Nagle’s company for some time.

At the end of last month, FDC said it was ready to bid €2.85 a share, some 40 cent more than the MBO team’s €2.45. But FDC withdrew just days later, claiming it had been unable to meet Alphyra’s management team. Alphyra is contesting this claim, saying it had met FDC and was willing to set up another meeting.

The Alphyra management team said it was confident of securing majority acceptance of its latest offer by the February 19 deadline.

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