Ingenico SA said it has received a nonbinding stock offer in a deal whose value could approach $1.9 billion.
The French terminal maker would not say who made the bid. Bloomberg Businessweek said on Friday the potential buyer is Danaher Corp., a diversified technology company in Washington, D.C., citing "a person familiar with the matter."
In a statement, Ingenico said it received an offer of about $37 per share. Ingenico's stock value on the Euronext Paris exchange closed Thursday at $36.29 per share. The company had 48.6 million shares outstanding at the end of trading that day, minus 1.4 million Treasury shares.
"The ongoing discussions may or may not lead to a transaction," Ingenico said in Friday's statement, though it said it plans to issue a news release before the start of trading in Paris on Monday, following a board meeting.
Ingenico is the world's top terminal maker based on annual revenue. Word of a potential acquisition comes on the heels of VeriFone Systems Inc.'s planned acquisition of Hypercom Corp., the second- and third-leading terminal makers respectively.
Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Luria said he could only speculate on the potential buyer.
eBay Inc.'s PayPal Inc. online payments unit has been making strides to move into brick-and-mortar merchant acceptance, so possible company interest in buying a terminal company "is an intriguing thought," Luria said.
"If [PayPal] wants a physical presence, it's a way to control the terminal and to move into a physical network," he said. "It's a very novel thought that stretches the boundaries of what they do."
A PayPal spokeswoman declined to comment.
VeriFone announced a deal in September with Bling Nation Ltd. under which the terminal maker plans to use its reseller network and payments gateway to extend point of sale acceptance to PayPal via Bling's rewards-based contactless payment stickers. Users of VeriFone's PayWare Mobile add-on for Apple Inc.'s iPhone can use it to accept PayPal payments by tapping a spender's iPhone.
George Sutton, managing director of Craig Hallun Capital Group of Minneapolis, speculated that the offer for Ingenico might have come from a European entity because unsolicited, nonbinding offers tend to be more a European strategy than a U.S. one.