Ant Financial sweetens bid for US electronic payment firm's MoneyGram

Alibaba Group affiliate China's Ant Financial Services Group, yesterday sweetened its bid for US electronic payment firm MoneyGram International Inc, topping a rival bid from Euronet Worldwide Inc.

Ant Financial increased its bid from $13.25 per share to $18 per share in cash, valuing MoneyGram at around $1.2 billion.

Kansas-based Euronet Worldwide had last month offered to pay $15.20 in cash for each share of MoneyGram common stock and MoneyGram preferred stock, valuing the company at more than $1 billion. (See: Euronet Worldwide outbids Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial for Money Gram)

If the deal is rejected by antitrust regulators, Euronet offered to pay MoneyGram a breakup fee of $69 million - four times than the termination fee offered by Ant Financial.

MoneyGram today said that its board has unanimously approved Ant Financial's revised offer and has entered into a definitive agreement under which MoneyGram will merge with Ant Financial.

MoneyGram and Ant Financial said that they have already made significant progress towards obtaining the regulatory approvals necessary to complete the transaction, including obtaining antitrust clearance in the US and filing for certain state licensing approvals.

But a deal with Ant Financial would require clearance by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), a US panel that reviews foreign acquisitions of domestic assets for national security concerns.

CFIUS has always closely scrutinised all Chinese acquisition offers for US companies and a deal with Euronet is more likely to be approved than that by Ant Financial.

Euronet had earlier said that a deal with Ant Financial could take US law enforcement agencies into a confrontation mode with MoneyGram while investigating money laundering and terrorist financing.

MoneyGram is the world's second-largest provider of money transfers and operates in more than 200 countries with a global network of about 347,000 agent offices.

The Dallas, Texas-based company has an operation center in Minnesota and regional and local offices around the world.

MoneyGram works with individuals and businesses through a network of agents and financial institution customers.