An Post sells mobile top-up division to Alphyra

18 Mar 2005

Two companies that An Post acquired for €8.5m in 2002 were sold yesterday to Alphyra for €85m. Informed sources suggest that if another major acquisition planned succeeds in the months ahead the Irish electronic payments firm may consider returning to the public markets, possibly with an Alternative Investment Market flotation in mind.

It is understood that since An Post acquired the companies in 2002 from the Cauldwell Group it had invested some €16m in developing them.

The acquisition of UK and Spain-based PostTS consolidates Alphyra’s position as one of Europe’s largest independent payment network operators. Alphyra now operates in 15 European countries, with total transactions of approximately €3.6bn annually. In each market the company offers mobile operators, utility companies and content providers the opportunity to sell products electronically using it’s footprint of 115,000 merchants.

Alphyra has now invested more than €125m in the past two years on acquisitions including its most recent acquisition of EVS in Germany.

NCB Corporate advised Alphyra on the transaction and funding was provided by Alphyra’s principal bankers HBOS. Alphyra is owned by Benchmark Capital and the management team. Benchmark Capital Europe provided the financial backing for the Alphyra delisting in May 2003, having established its first European fund in 2000.

Europe has a population of 350 million, of which 70pc use prepay mobile phones, making it the largest prepaid market in the world; a market that Alphyra chief executive John Nagle is eager to capture a slice of. “The acquisition of PostTS is the most important and the most strategic that Alphyra has completed. It is particularly significant because it enables the company to accelerate further its growth strategy across Europe.

“With operations across 15 countries we are now the largest distributor of prepay products in Europe. The addition of Spain greatly enhances our pan-European objectives, while PostTS UK offers us additional market share in one of the largest mobile top-up markets in Europe.

“Alphyra’s unrivalled cash acceptance payment network will present a unique opportunity to introduce new services and build revenues for merchants from a range of activities including money transfer, pre-pay-Visa/Mastercard and content distribution.

“The pan-European growth and development of Alphyra has been achieved by strong organic growth and an aggressive acquisition strategy in a market that is both growing and changing rapidly,” Nagle concluded.

By John Kennedy