Nasdaq buying N.L. online security company Verafin in $2.75B US deal

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St. John’s-based online security and anti-fraud company Verafin will be sold to global technology giant Nasdaq for $2.75 billion US, the companies announced Thursday.

In a statement, Nasdaq said the agreement between the two companies will combine Verafin’s products with Nasdaq’s international reach to make them a global leader “in the fight against financial crime.”

Verafin, founded in 2003 by Brendan Brothers, Jamie King and Raymond Pretty, works with almost 3,000 banks and credit unions in Canada and the United States to detect activity like fraud and money laundering.

The deal will see Verafin’s technology made available to Nasdaq’s global network of nearly 250 banks, exchanges, investing companies and regulatory authorities that rely on Nasdaq’s technology to detect market manipulation and abuse, the release said.

“The intelligent technology solutions Verafin has created are second-to-none, and that is evident in the company’s extraordinary growth and stellar client retention,” Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq, said in a news release.

Staying in St. John’s

The deal promised to boost the province’s burgeoning tech sector.

“We are committed to supporting innovation and growth in St. John’s and Newfoundland and Labrador. We believe that Verafin will not only complement and grow our existing presence in Canada, but also represents a potential catalyst for further investment opportunities in the province and the country,” Friedman said in the release.

During an investors call Thursday morning, Friedman said an estimated $2 trillion a year is laundered, and “financial crime, including money laundering, is among the biggest and most difficult challenges that banks face around the world.”

Verafin will remain headquartered in St. John’s, and Nasdaq will invest in Memorial University’s innovation hub The Genesis Centre, the company said Thursday. (CBC)

Friedman said an estimated $42 billion is invested in the anti-financial crime space — $12.5 billion of that on technology, with that number expected to grow yearly.

With a market penetration rate between Verafin and Nasdaq estimated at just three per cent, Friedman said there is “an incredible amount of opportunity” for the venture.

Verafin’s current clients are all based in North America, Friedman said, while about two-thirds of Nasdaq’s revenue in the surveillance business comes from larger clients outside the U.S.

The deal will mean Nasdaq’s investment in Verafin will bring their product to larger-tiered banks and financial clients on an international scale.

“We have a really great opportunity to take them into our bank clients across Europe,” Friedman said.

Verafin’s headquarters will remain in St. John’s, Nasdaq said, and the company’s executive leadership team will remain in place.

Verafin was founded in 2003 and is based in St. John’s. (CBC)

Nasdaq also said it will invest in a new $1-million US research and development partnership project with the Genesis Centre, an innovation hub based at Memorial University in St. John’s that provides support for startups in the province.

It will also grow a scholarship program at Memorial University, including funding and supervising six fellowships for master’s and PhD students “in order to foster the next generation of talent in the province and help support Verafin’s growing employment base.”

In the release, Verafin CEO Jamie King called the deal “a major vote of confidence and a significant win for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador’s technology and innovation sector.

“Nasdaq’s clear commitments to the province will help foster prosperity and opportunity throughout the community as we continue to grow our business.”

The sale is still subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in early 2021. Verafin is expected to deliver at least $140 million in revenue to Nasdaq in 2021.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoudland and Labrador

SOURCE: CBC.ca

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