By Emeka Aginam
Mobile and security focused financial technology provider, Value Added Network Solutions, VANSO, has announced the acquisition of 100% of the equity in the company by Interswitch Limited, pan-African digital payments and commerce company.
With this development, the transaction will integrate the two businesses, and provide Interswitch with a market leading mobile banking and payments solution provider in Nigeria, while enabling Vanso to accelerate growth across an expanded range of geographies and products. Vanso’s existing shareholders will become shareholders of the Interswitch group, aligning the long term interests of both companies towards long term growth.
Vanso provides highly secure messaging, payments and banking solutions for a broad range of telecommunications and financial services clients in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya and a number of other territories across sub-Saharan Africa.
The combination of Interswitch and Vanso is expected to create an unrivalled African solution across switching, billing, cards, mobile money and mobile commerce, while integrating an end to end value chain play through the combination of Vanso’s front end solutions and Interswitch’s back end infrastructure.
As part of the transaction, Vanso’s non-executive vice chairman, Constantine ‘Labi Ogunbiyi, will take up a position on the board of the Interswitch group, bringing his two decades of strategy, corporate finance and legal experience in Africa to further complement the board’s existing capabilities. Vanso co-founder and CEO, Denis O’Brien, will assume a new role as the CEO for Interswitch’s Digital Payments business, and the broader Vanso senior management team will take up senior positions within the Interswitch system.
Commenting on the transaction, Vanso executive co-founders, Denis O’Brien and Idris Saliu, said, “Vanso’s mobile banking platform and payments solutions are already integrated with the Interswitch system, and this transaction provides a broad and established platform from which we can grow into the continent’s leading mobile messaging, payments and banking provider.
‘ In Interswitch, we have found a partner with ambitions aligned to our own, and the institutional backing and scale to rapidly accelerate their attainment. I would like to thank our Board, executive management team and all our staff, who have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to identify the most appropriate growth option for us. Specifically, we would like to thank Stephen Farry, our CFO, for his essential work on the structure and delivery of the transaction. We look forward to working with the Interswitch management and board over the coming years.”
Remarking on the merging of both entities, Vanso’s chairman and co-founder, Mr. Richard Akerele, said:
“I am extremely proud of the Vanso team and all its staff, in building a highly competent technology company. It is a testament to the capability of young Nigerian entrepreneurs who have a vision for our country and belief in themselves. I am a firm believer that the future of Nigeria and Africa rests in the hands of the younger generation, and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to have supported this endeavour since inception.”
Vanso’s Vice Chairman, ‘Labi Ogunbiyi, who joined the Interswitch board of directors said: “Having been deeply involved in the emergence of the indigenous Nigerian oil and gas sector, I am extremely excited to have advised on and concluded this transaction, and to be joining the board of the combined entities. I believe that technology has the potential to deliver transformational change in Africa, and be a key driver of future sustainable growth. I look forward to working with the Interswitch leadership team to achieve the potential of the business over the coming years.”
Explaining how the Vanso solutions fit into Interswitch’s Africa expansion strategy, group CEO Mitchell Elegbe said, “The acquisition of Vanso, both a market leader in the mobile financial services industry and a strong and profitable business, is a great opportunity to combine our respective technology offerings and skill sets, driving growth in our business.
“By integrating operations, we not only secure access to new payment channels, but a highly skilled leadership team as well, while Vanso now has access to new markets, a mutually beneficial step for both our companies. I am delighted to welcome Denis O’Brien and Idris Saliu as kindred entrepreneurial spirits with a belief in the future role of technology in Africa and both will bring unique and valuable skills to the leadership roles they will assume. I also want to welcome ‘Labi Ogunbiyi to the Interswitch Board of Directors.”