French payments services provider Worldline has agreed to buy 80% of Axepta Italy, the merchant acquiring entity of BNL banking group in Italy.

Worldline will pay €180m for the transaction. BNL will retain a 20% ownership in Axepta.

The deal, expected to close at the end of this year or early next year, will enable Worldline to create a joint venture (JV) with BNL banking group.

This JV is designed to be an open vehicle for “welcoming existing partners and other Italian banks willing to benefit from delivery and servicing excellence”.

In addition, Worldline will sign a long-term commercial partnership agreement with BNL to distribute its payment product and services, along with Axepta Italy’s, using BNL’s banking network.

Worldline chairman and CEO Gilles Grapinet called the alliance with BNL a ‘further significant development’ in the group’s consolidation strategy in Europe.

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“This transaction offers attractive growth opportunities for Worldline in the coming years and a strong footprint to further expand our Merchant Services activities in Italy,” Grapinet added.

BNL deputy general manager Marco Tarantola said that the partnership will enable it to offer a range of products, services and payment solutions to the firm.

Set up in 2006, Axepta is said to be one of the large bank-owned acquirers in Italy.

The firm offers international payment solutions for all channels, including online, mobile or in-store payment solutions.

It is said to serve 30,000 merchants, which includes SMBs as well as large corporates.

Headed by CEO Stefano Calderano, Axepta currently has a workforce of over 100. All these employees will join Worldline upon deal completion.

In May this year, Worldline agreed to buy a 92.5% stake in Greek network services provider Cardlink for €130m in cash.