Sean Fitzgerald saw potential for crossborder payments in EU
The €110m sale of Irish payment technology firm Sentenial means a payday for shareholders including former Finance Minister and European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, who is a director of the company, the late Feargal Quinn’s family, and veteran executive Gary McGann.
The Kildare-based company is being bought by Australia’s EML Payments for up to €110m, including cash upfront and up to €40m under an ‘earn out’ agreement. The same buyer took over Navan-based Prepaid Financial Services last year, making multi-millionaires of its founders Noel and Valerie Moran.
Sentenial’s majority shareholders are the family of Sean Fitzgerald, 56, who founded the company in 2003 after spotting the potential opportunity in the EU’s then-nascent single European payments area more than a decade before was created as he attempted to navigate an unwieldy system of cross border payments in his chemical engineering job.
SEPA allows customers to make cashless euro payments to anywhere in the European Union.
“There was significant technology change, significant regulatory change happening [in payments] and there was an under severed market as well, payments were very badly served up until 15-20 years ago, then there has been a revolution in payments since then, but SEPA was one of the drivers of that,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
Taxpayers will also be among the winners .
Enterprise Ireland, which supported the business in its early days, is a preference shareholder and will get its initial investment back along with a “significant upside” according to Mr Fitzgerald.
Sentenial’s software is used by clients including Citi and Barclays and is connected to 1,750 banks across Europe. The sale also includes open banking product Nuapay.
The Maynooth company employs around 60 staff and processes €45bn of payments per year. It is regulated in both the UK and France.
Mr Fitzgerald will remain with the business after the sale.
He said the Australia firm’s “vision and ambition is very much aligned with ours in where payments are going globally”.
EML intends to expand Sentenial’s platform and products to the North America and Australia.
The sale is subject to regulatory approval, and is expected to complete later this year.