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EXCLUSIVE-Italian payments firm Nexi leads race for $10 bln Nets takeover - sources

LONDON/NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Italian payments technology firm Nexi is leading negotiations to buy Nordic rival Nets in an all-stock deal worth about $10 billion after trumping competition from U.S. firm Global Payments , four sources told Reuters.

The deal would transform Nexi, which has a market value of 8.4 billion euros ($9.93 billion), into a European payments powerhouse, allowing it to build a footprint in key regions such as the Nordics and Central and Eastern Europe.

U.S. private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, which took control of Nets in 2017 and subsequently delisted it from the Copenhagen stock exchange, is working with Credit Suisse on the sale and wants to clinch a deal by the end of the year, two of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is confidential.

The sources said Nexi, advised by Centerview Partners, was waiting for market volatility to ease in November after the U.S. presidential election before entering a binding agreement with Nets.

They added that any takeover of Nets wouldn’t endanger Nexi’s ongoing merger with Italian rival SIA - a deal announced on Oct. 5 and expected to close by the summer of 2021.

Global Payments dropped out of the process after the sale of its $2 billion Netspend unit was pulled earlier this week, two of the sources said.

Nexi, Hellman & Friedman and Global Payments declined to comment while Nets was not immediately available.

$1 = 0.8461 euros Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London and David French in New York, additional reporting by Elisa Anzolin in Milan; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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