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AXA joins electronic payments trend

AXA Private Equity has become the latest buyout firm to invest in electronic payments, through the acquisition of Welcome Real-time.

AXA Private Equity, the buyout arm of the French insurer, has bought electronic payment company Welcome Real-time for an undisclosed sum.

French bank BNP Paribas, venture capitalist Gem Venture and other shareholders sold their stakes to the insurer. 

Welcome Real-time’s technology allows banks and stores to process payment by credit card in real-time. The company became profitable three years ago and its revenues have grown at 50 percent per year, although no specific figures were disclosed.

The company has had three previous venture capital spending rounds in which AXA’s venture capital team did not participate, although it has joined AXA Private Equity on the deal having followed the company for five years. The deal has been half financed through debt and half through equity.

Sébastien Guillaud, Welcome Real-time’s chief executive, said the company’s performance had been very good over the past few years, and that its biggest and fastest growth was still to come.

Electronic payment companies have proved popular with buyout firms. This year, KKR has bought First Data for $29 billion in one of the largest ever buyouts, while Blackstone picked up Alliance Data for $7.8 billion, Warburg Pincus acquired Megavante for $625 million, and General Atlantic bought a minority stake in the Global Electronic Trading Company for an undisclosed sum.
 
AXA Private Equity manages and advises over €10 billion of buyout funds.