Visa steps up bidding war for payments minnow Earthport

Visa boosts offer for Earthport in battle with Mastercard

Visa raises Earthport offer to £247m, tops Mastercard bid

Visa has today sweetened its offer for payment company Earthport to about £247m, pushing past rival Mastercard's earlier bid and setting up a showdown for the assets.

Visa said yesterday that it was offering 37p per share for Earthport, a London-based crossborder payments processor with promising technology and an global network.

Last month, Mastercard offered around £233m for the assets but Visa has now trumped that with its latest offer of 37p per share, 23 per cent more than its original bid.

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It is an advance on its previous offer of 30p per share and follows a January bid from Mastercard of 33p.

Both Visa and Mastercard have cited the same reason for their interest in Earthport - the deal would allow it to expand its cross-border network service.

Shares in Earthport jumped by nearly 9% to 42p after the news this morning, while Mastercard was prompted to issue a short statement saying: "Mastercard is considering its options and urges Earthport shareholders to take no action in response to the announcement by Visa".

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Another statement from Mastercard is expected in due course.

"This revised cash offer provides our shareholders with even greater value in cash for their shares".

The deal war comes after a hard year for Earthport in which it lost a major customer, saw reduced transaction volumes and underwent a management shake-up.

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