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Exclusive: Card payment firm Nets hires JP Morgan for 1-2 billion euro sale - sources

By Sophie Sassard and Greg Roumeliotis

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Europe's number 2 card payment processor Nets has hired JP Morgan to sell the business for 1-2 billion euros, four people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Suitors could include private equity firms such as Advent and Bain, which acquired payment firm WorldPay from RBS in 2010, as well as French IT company Atos , one of the sources said.

Card payment services are seen as an attractive business for private equity firms as they offer steady cash flows and are not affected by economic cycles, the sources said.

Privately held Nets, which counts Nordea Bank , DNB and Danske Bank among its largest shareholders, was formed in 2009 through the merger of Norwegian payment services conglomerate Nordito AS and Danish peer PBS. It became Europe's second-largest card processor by number of card payments after it acquired Finland's largest payment card company Luottokunta in 2012.

Nets currently handles 33 million payment cards every year. It had 2012 revenues of 5962 million Danish Krone or 800 million euros and net profits of 682 million Danish Krone or 91.5 million euros.

Nets, JPM and Advent declined to comment while Bain and Atos were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Sophie Sassard and Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Sophie Walker)

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