Net 1 UEPS Technologies has agreed to acquire the operating business of South Africa-based Fihrst Management Services, a provider of third party payroll payments solution, for approximately $9m in cash.

The acquisition is likely help Net 1 in marketing its range of transaction processing products and financial services, including bill payments, insurance products, prepaid utilities and third party payments.

Additionally, Net1 will have the opportunity to promote its wage payment initiative by offering the employees of Fihrst customers its banking through relationship with Grindrod Bank, and benefit from Fihrst’s experienced executives along with IT-related services and resources.

Serge Belamant, chairman and CEO of Net1, said: “We are delighted to welcome Fihrst to the Net1 family as it offers an ideal platform to further expand our transaction processing capabilities and provides us with a link to 700,000 employees to offer our innovative, low cost products and services. We look forward to the contribution of the highly respected Fihrst management team to the growth of our business.”

Mark Stuckenberg, managing director of Fihrst, said: “The transaction will enable Fihrst to capitalize on the multiple synergistic opportunities available within the broader Net1 group, as well as its expected enhanced product and service offerings to its corporate clients in South Africa representing approximately 700,000 employees. Additionally, Net1’s global footprint affords Fihrst the ability to access new markets to offer its unique employer-based payment system.”

However, the transaction is expected to close in April 2010 once all regulatory approvals have been obtained.

Net1 is a provider of universal electronic payment system (UEPS), an alternative payment system for the unbanked and under-banked populations of developing economies.