Voice Commerce out of WorldPay running as field narrows

Voice Commerce out of WorldPay running as field narrows

Royal Bank of Scotland has narrowed down the list of potential buyers for its WorldPay payment processing business, with Voice Commerce Group among those now out of the running.

RBS received around a dozen bids for the Global Merchant Services business after being told to sell it by the European competition authorities last year as a condition for joining the UK government's asset protection scheme.

Several bidders for the unit, valued at up to £3 billion, have now fallen by the wayside, leaving a handful to move on to due diligence.

Voice Commerce chief - and WorldPay founder - Nick Ogden, told Finextra that his cash bid was rejected as too low. Under his plans the unit would have been kept intact and merged with Voice Commerce through a new UK-listed shell company.

He refused to reveal the size of the offer but confirms it did not require any funding from RBS but would have seen the bank retain a share of just under 20% in the business.

Ogden has not ruled out re-entering the process but says the bid was carefully costed for a business that is in need of a technology overhaul, is witnessing declining revenues and market share and would be complicated to separate from RBS.

In fact, Ogden says the only value the business has to Voice Commerce is its customer base, insisting "distribution is the principle, single, asset. Period".

He also voiced concerns over the future of WorldPay, expressing regret that the business is now highly unlikely to remain in British hands and raised the prospect of it being split up by private equity firms. "It will be sad if it goes the same way as Cadbury," says Ogden.

Voice Commerce will now turn its attentions to other potential acquisitions, with several meetings in Asia and the US set to take place in the coming weeks.

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