American alternative investment management company Blackstone has on Friday announced that it has inked deal to acquire a majority stake in Sony Payment Services Inc. (SPSV), one of Japan’s leading payment service providers.

Blackstone said in a statement that its private equity funds managed have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the stake with Sony Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Group.

According to the statement, Sony Bank will roll over a certain portion of its equity and will continue to support the growth of SPSV as a minority investor.

This marks Blackstone’s first investment in the financial technology sector in Japan.

Sony Group established its payment service business in 1995, which became a standalone company in 2006.

Today, SPSV is one of the top payment service providers in Japan, offering high-speed and secure infrastructure for customers and businesses to process online payments.

“Sony has been a longstanding partner to Blackstone. Our partnership goes all the way back to Blackstone’s founding nearly four decades ago – we started out as a boutique merger and acquisition (M&A) firm, and Sony was one of our earliest clients,

“We are proud to once again partner with a leading corporation in Japan and deepen our presence in the country, a key market for Blackstone where we’ve cultivated valuable relationships based on trust and shared success,” said Steve Schwarzman, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Blackstone.

Atsuhiko Sakamoto, Head of Private Equity, Blackstone Japan, said the firm is thrilled to invest in SPSV, one of Japan’s leading payment services providers and a well-established financial technology company, and expand its Japan private equity portfolio in “good neighborhoods” – sectors with strong secular growth.

“Digitization of the economy is a key trend around the world including Japan, and SPSV is exceptionally positioned to benefit with its sophisticated technology and robust customer base,

“We’re committed to bringing our operational and technology expertise and scale to support SPSV’s growth,” he added.

Kenichiro Yoshida, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sony Group, said that for the past 30 years, SPSV has led Japan’s cashless evolution, making payments safe and secure for customers.

“We believe Blackstone, a long-standing partner of Sony Group, can help continue the legacy that SPSV has formed and support its next phase of growth,” he said.

Keiji Minami, President and Chief Executive Officer, Representative Director, Sony Bank, said SPSV has seen steady growth and gained the trust of customers by providing high-quality service.

“With the accelerated shift towards cashless payments and increasing diversification in payment types, it’s more important than ever to adapt to new trends with greater speed,

“We believe that Blackstone is the best partner, bringing a global perspective and its expertise and network in the payment business,” he added.

Hidehiko Nakamura, President and Chief Executive Officer, Representative Director, Sony Payment Services, said SPSV has solidified a healthy market position and earned the trust of customers as a high-quality payment service provider.

“We believe this partnership with Blackstone will boost SPSV’s capabilities through investments in information technology (IT) and talent to help accelerate its growth journey, particularly at an exciting time of growth for the electronic payment industry in Japan,” he added.

According to the statement, Japan is the fourth largest electronic card payment market in the world with a market penetration of 9.1 percent, representing significant room for growth.

SPSV is supported by Japan’s JPY 22.7 trillion e-commerce market and the rapid uptake of cashless payments around the world.

Blackstone’s Private Equity investments in Japan include the acquisition of Alinamin Pharmaceutical (formerly Takeda Consumer Healthcare) in the largest healthcare transaction in the market ever and AYUMI Pharmaceutical.

Blackstone is the world’s largest alternative asset manager. Its over $1 trillion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, infrastructure, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis.

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