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Actis buys into Egyptian cards company

CAIRO, Kenya, Jul 27 – Actis, a private equity investor in emerging markets has announced the 100 percent management buy-out (MBO) of Mediterranean Smart Cards Company (MSCC), an electronic payment processor in Africa.

Actis will become the majority shareholder, while the management team, led by Madame Hoda Shoukry, has also invested for a stake in the business.

Africa is the last continent to move away from a cash society. The acquisition of MSCC reflects Actis’s belief in the fundamental shift in consumer and business behaviour from cash transactions to electronic payments.

MSCC was founded in 2001 and has built on its leading market share in Egypt to penetrate over 20 countries. It is now emerging Africa’s leading provider of high-quality, flexible technology for card payment processing and support services. The company presents an attractive value proposition to banks by reducing time to market, freeing management capacity to focus on core operations, and reducing costs. A third of Egyptian banks currently outsource their card processing to MSCC.

MSCC Chief Executive Officer Madame Hoda Shoukry said: “It is rewarding to be involved in an Egyptian company that has made such great strides in Africa: we look forward to working with Actis and continuing to strengthen and grow the MSCC business.”

Paul Edwards, incoming Chairman of MSCC said, “This new ownership structure secures the next phase of expansion for MSCC’s nine-year old business. Actis’s experience in scaling businesses in other high growth markets and its network of contacts will help accelerate growth and secure a broader base of card issuers. I truly believe the payments industry is the ‘next big thing’ in Africa.”

Commenting on the news, Actis Senior Partner Paul Fletcher said: “The growth of the payments industry is a key feature of the emerging markets story; we believe it shows the same potential as the telecoms sector did ten years ago. MSCC has a sound commercial foundation and world-class expertise. It offers a platform upon which we can build; bringing modern personal finance products to many more people and providing them with greater choice in the management of their finances.”

The MSCC acquisition follows Actis’s $244 million investment in Egypt’s Commercial International Bank in July 2009; the MSCC deal is entirely unconnected but underlines Actis’s continuing strength in the financial services sector and the firm’s on the ground expertise in Cairo.

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