Network International, an independent provider of payment solutions, and Abraaj Capital, a Dubai-based private equity group, have signed a partnership to enhance Network International's growth and accelerate the geographic expansion of the company's payments processing platform.

Under the terms of agreement, Abraaj Capital through Abraaj Financial Technologies Holdings will acquire a 49% stake in Network International for a price of $539m, which includes a sum contingent upon attainment of profitability targets and a portion financed by Emirates NBD as is normal in such transactions.

The transaction is subject to relevant regulatory approvals, and is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2011.

Network International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Emirates NBD, currently serves around 70 banks and financial institutions in the region and more than 17,000 individual merchants represented in over 28,000 outlets using around 45,000 point of sale machines in the region.

Network International has also established merchant acquiring and processing partnerships with leading global networks, such as American Express, China UnionPay, Diners Club and JCB. In addition, Network International provides consultancy services, including planning, designing and developing new software and services for the payment industry.

Abraaj Investment Management managing director and CEO Mustafa Abdel-Wadood said that given its wide footprint across the entire value chain of transaction processing services, Network International is ideally positioned to take advantage of the continuing shift from cash-based to electronic transactions and to capitalize on the massive growth potential of the region in light of the current under-penetration of payment cards.

Network International chairman Abdulla Qassem said that the company look forward to leveraging Abraaj Capital’s significant M&A and domain expertise and deep regional network to grow the franchise in the years ahead.