Business Irish

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Monex eyes €100m float should trade sale stall first

Fast-growing Killarney company stalked by Bahrain buyout fund

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Kerry entrepreneur Frank Murphy's €100m valued financial services firm Monex may consider floating on stockmarkets if an ongoing sales process fails to find a buyer.

"It's going well, it's making money and a flotation is one of the things being looked at," according to a source.

It is understood that the fast-growing firm has met with three potential buyers, including Bahrain private equity group Investcorp. Other suitors are believed to be a trade player and another private equity group. However, price appears to be a sticking point, with Monex management and advisers believed to value the company at well over €100m.

The rapid growth of the company can be seen in its latest financials, which saw Monex pay its shareholders a €6.4m dividend last year. Murphy and Michael Crowley are the shareholders in the company, with Murphy owning 84 per cent of Monex, which sees him bag close to €5.4m of the payout. It is the first dividend announced by the company.

The Killarney-headquartered data processing business now handles more than €20bn worth of credit card transactions. Revenues at the company leapt 16 per cent to nearly €77m. Profits slipped to €3.7m after a major reinvestment programme last year.

Under a licensing agreement, Murphy also claimed over €705,000 in patent royalties from the company last year. The businessman invented the dynamic currency conversion (DCC) technology behind Monex back in the Nineties. Monex's DCC software allows consumers travelling abroad to convert their credit card payments into a cardholder's chosen currency at the point of sale. This gives users real-time price transparency and allows them to choose a foreign exchange rate set by Monex and its partners rather than the pricey rate set by the credit card firms, while also avoiding hefty credit card surcharges for overseas use.

Murphy set up Monex in 1997 after leaving Brian McCarthy's financial services group Fexco. Enterprise Ireland was involved in the start-up phase but now the company's shares are almost entirely owned by Murphy and Crowley. The firm has signed up major international clients including Hertz, Bank of China, Ryanair and the Marriott hotel group.

The Irish financial data processing sector has attracted a number of institutional buyers over the last two years. Gerry Barry's Galway-based Fintrax was sold to private equity group Exponent last year for €170m. Exponent has also been linked with a move for Monex, although sources played down any potential move. Listed New York firm Planet Payments has also been distanced from a bid.

The Irish tech sector is one of the few thriving despite the weak domestic economy.

Irish Independent

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