Global payments processor Worldpay saw its value surge by nearly £2bn as it confirmed it had received competing takeover approaches from Wall Street giant JP Morgan and US rival Vantiv.
Shares closed 28% higher, taking the group’s market valuation to more than £8bn, as analysts suggested other corporate giants might now also join the tussle to acquire it.
Worldpay said it had received preliminary approaches from each firm but that there was no certainty about a formal offer being made.
It means that both must now say whether or not they intend to do so by a “put up or shut up” deadline of 1 August under UK takeover rules.
The approaches showed how automated payment specialists have become attractive targets for credit card companies, banks and tech firms amid the growing popularity of paying by smartphone as consumers shun cash.
Analysts at Mediobanca Securities said: “We believe Worldpay is a unique asset and the current interest from two US peers could also trigger the intention of parties like Google, Amazon, Apple.”
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Worldpay sells technology that enables businesses to take payments via cards, online or mobile devices – with 400,000 customers in 126 currencies across 146 countries.
It says that on a typical day it processes more than 31 million mobile, online and in-store transactions, or around 400 a second.
It also has an e-commerce platform serving large online-based multinationals.
Set up in 1989, it was part of Royal Bank of Scotland before being spun out to private equity ownership and then floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2015 with a valuation of £4.8bn.
London-based Worldpay employs 4,500 staff mainly in the UK, US, India and Canada and also has a presence in a number of other countries.