As banks around the world were reeling from the 2008 financial crisis, Advent started focusing on an opportunity whose potential was not yet widely understood: digital payments.
The fintech revolution had yet to happen, but it was clear to us that consumers were abandoning cash for the convenience of cards and electronic payments, and that ecommerce was going to continue to snowball. We saw the shift firsthand after we acquired payment processor Vantiv in 2009.
As we looked to capitalize on that trend, an opportunity materialized in the United Kingdom. Royal Bank of Scotland, which needed to sell non-core assets, was looking for the right partner to support the growth of its payments subsidiary, RBS Worldpay.
The payment processing unit, with deep connections in the UK and Europe, was benefiting from market tailwinds, but needed a partner willing to invest in the business and restructure operations to help it capture its full potential. We knew the CEO, Ron Kalifa, having competed with Worldpay a few years before in a process to acquire an early mover in online payment acceptance. In 2010, we joined with Bain Capital to purchase an 80% stake in Worldpay.
Former CEO, Worldpay
Working hand in hand with Ron, incoming CEO Phillip Jansen, and the wider team, we developed an aggressive growth strategy that included international expansion and strengthening Worldpay’s position in ecommerce. We also supported the complex task of restructuring the payments unit into a standalone company, separating its mission-critical IT infrastructure from RBS and standing up all the functions previously provided by RBS – including finance, legal, operations, and HR. We backed a string of acquisitions that quickly increased Worldpay’s sales force and product capabilities, allowing it to onboard more local merchants.
The investments helped the company achieve strong growth. By 2015, Worldpay was ready for an IPO. It became the largest listing on the London Stock Exchange that year and immediately joined the FTSE 100. We exited our position over the next two years.
In July 2017, Vantiv acquired Worldpay in a $10 billion transaction, and two years later the combined company was acquired by Fidelity National Information Services, one of the world’s largest payments processing consolidators, for $35 billion. Our strategic focus on digital payments and our ability to act as a force multiplier in supporting and transforming promising companies was a meaningful contributor to the value creation at Worldpay during that period.
Advent’s current Tech team was not involved in this investment.