Temasek-backed Pine Labs said to weigh bid for part of Wirecard's Asia business

The sale of Wirecard's businesses will be clouded by ongoing probes into its operations. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Pine Labs - the Indian payments company backed by Temasek Holdings, PayPal and Mastercard - is considering a bid for fallen fintech star Wirecard's businesses in South-east Asia and India, according to people familiar with the matter.

A potential bid is still at an exploratory stage, as there's no information available yet on the valuation and finances of Wirecard's Asian operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is confidential. There's no certainty that Pine Labs will proceed with a formal bid, the people added.

The sale of Wirecard's businesses will be clouded by ongoing probes into its operations after the German payments firm was forced into insolvency by an accounting scandal. Wirecard said last month that almost €2 billion (S$3.14 billion) it previously reported as cash probably never existed.

However, several Wirecard's subsidiaries - including those in Asia - weren't part of the insolvency filing. The firm's administrators have said the assets are attracting interest from many global investors and a sale process involving investment banks is on the way.

Pine Labs is potentially interested in Wirecard's regional point-of-sale business, which handles merchants' payments transactions, one of the people said. That is Pine Labs' core business in India, and any acquisition of Wirecard assets would allow it to expand those operations further in South-east Asia, the person added.

Pine Labs chief executive officer Amrish Rau declined to comment in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News.

Singapore is home to Wirecard's Asia-Pacific headquarters and the company has been expanding aggressively in the region, which accounted for almost 45 per cent of the group's reported revenue in 2018, second only to Europe. In the city state, the fintech firm is facing probes by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the local accounting authority and the police's financial crime unit.

Pine Labs, founded by Lokvir Kapoor, processes US$30 billion (S$41.8 billion) of payments a year and serves some 140,000 merchants via 450,000 network points, according to the company's website.

Temasek and online payments giant PayPal acquired minority stakes in Pine Labs for US$125 million in 2018. The company also counts Sequoia Capital and Mastercard among its investors.

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