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Euronet Worldwide is looking to gatecrash Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s party.

The Kansas-based e-payment service provider has launched a $2bn bid for rival money transfer group MoneyGram International, throwing a spanner into Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial’s plans to buy the business.

In a statement on Tuesday, Euronet said it was proposing to buy MoneyGram for $15.20 a share in cash, valuing the company at more than $1bn. In addition, Euronet said it would assume $940m of MoneyGram’s debt.

Euronet’s equity proposal presents a 15 per cent premium to Ant’s $13.25 a share offer, which was made in January.

Although Moneygram’s board has already agreed to be acquired by Ant, Euronet argued that its offer will present less regulatory hurdles than its Chinese rival. It said:

The proposal offers stockholders a clear and significantly more certain path to a faster closing with no required review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) and no closing condition related to securing change of control consents covering money transmitter licenses in the jurisdictions in which MoneyGram operates.

Dallas-based MoneyGram is one of the biggest players in the global remittance industry, with 2.4bn bank and mobile accounts. However, the company, along with Western Union, has been facing increasing competition in the money transfer space, with the rise of cheaper digital alternatives like TransferWise on one hand and new brick and mortar entrants like Walmart on the other.

Ant, the digital payments arm of Chinese ecommerce group Alibaba, had hoped to use the acquisition of MoneyGram as a platform to expand its services into other parts of the world. However, as a Chinese company, the acquisition will need the green light from watchdogs including the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which has previously scuppered some China-related deals on security grounds.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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