Italian payment firm Nexi has made a $397m (€350m) bid to acquire the payment unit of banking group BPER Banca, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the development.

Nexi started exclusive talks with the bank earlier this month to purchase its merchant acquiring business.  

The companies are expected to sign a deal by the end of next month, according to sources whose identities were not disclosed as the matter is confidential.

BPER and Nexi did not comment on the development.

BPER’s unit specialises in the management of electronic payments. The potential deal would help Nexi further bolster its presence in Italy’s payment space.

Nexi has made a number of acquisitions after its current chief executive Paolo Bertoluzzo took over the firm in 2016.

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These include the purchase of merchant payment businesses of several Italian banks, including the payments divisions of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Banca Carige and Intesa Sanpaolo.

The firm’s strategy involves the acquisition of payment assets from the banking partners, while maintaining partnerships and contracts with the banks.

In May last year, it was reported that Nexi was pursuing talks to scoop up stake in Greece-based Alpha Bank’s payment business.

Last year, the firm agreed to buy SIA in an all-share deal valued at $5.3bn (€4.56bn) and Nordic rival Nets for €7.8bn.

Earlier this month, a report by Bloomberg said that Nexi is weighing strategic options for its German buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) unit Ratepay, including a sale of the business. The BNPL firm was acquired by the payment provider as part of its acquisition of Nets.