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ION Group nears $1.8 bln deal to buy Italy's Cedacri - sources

LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Financial data and technology firm ION Group is nearing a deal to buy Italian banking software provider Cedacri for about 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion), two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

ION has prevailed in an auction process which was launched last year and is now negotiating the final terms of its offer which will be financed through a bridge loan, one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

IT consultancy Accenture and Italian IT services provider Engineering, which both joined the race last year, have now dropped out of the process, the sources said.

ION, Cedacri, Accenture and Engineering declined to comment.

Cedacri, led by boss Corrado Sciolla, provides banking solutions, cloud services, big data and advanced analytics to more than 70 banks.

It is backed by Italian state-backed fund FSI, which has a 27% stake, and another 14 financial institutions including Unipol and Banca Mediolanum.

The sale, run by Deutsche Bank, also attracted interest from a consortium of buyout fund Apax and digital services firm Reply but they walked away from talks in November.

Dublin-based ION, led by Italian businessman Andrea Pignataro, has been on an acquisition spree in recent years.

It secured a majority stake in financial news company Acuris for 1.35 billion pounds ($1.85 billion) in 2019 and bought trading software firm Fidessa for 1.5 billion pounds in 2018.

Pignataro, a former Salomon Brothers bond trader, recently launched two special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs - known as ScION Tech Growth I and II - to invest in financial technology and services assets. ($1 = 0.8283 euros) ($1 = 0.7299 pounds) (Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia and Elisa Anzolin; Editing by David Clarke)

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