KKR to buy Peace owner

Private equity firm to acquire First Data

First Data, which bought Peace Software last year, has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR).

First Data was spun off from American Express in 1992 and has built up a major presence in payments-processing through acquisitions like that of Peace, which it used to set up a new division, First Data for Utilities. Peace specialised in billing systems for electricity companies and other utility providers.

Sebastian Gunningham, chief executive of Peace at the time of the buy, joined First Data. Peace founder Brian Peace has since left.

Peace's sales and marketing operations have been based in the US since the late 1990s, but the company retains a research and development division in Auckland. The facility continues to operate under First Data's ownership. The latter recently advertised for Java Software Engineers in New Zealand.

The $US29 billion (NZ$40 billion) KKR offer allows other firms to approach First Data for another 50 days after the signing date of April 2, but if no better offers are received the deal will go through, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

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