Actor Ryan Reynolds adds payments company Nuvei to portfolio of business interests


Star says he knows ‘nothing’ about fintech

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Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds may not know much about fintech, but that isn’t stopping him from adding Montreal-based payments company Nuvei Corp. to his portfolio of business interests.

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Nuvei, which provides payments processing technology, announced April 17 that the Deadpool actor was now an “investor.”  The company declined to specify the terms or size of the investment or whether there was a promotional component, but Reynolds appeared alongside Nuvei chief executive Philip Fayer in an interview with CNBC to discuss his interest.

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The actor said the move has been two years in the making but made it clear that his knowledge of the sector is limited.

“I know nothing about fintech. Thank God, I’m not running the company,” he told CNBC.

The actor said his job at Maximum Effort, the film production company and digital marketing agency he co-founded is, “storytelling” and “not necessarily financial investment but emotional investment.”

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Reynolds said his investment team has been looking for exciting opportunities in companies that have “so much room to grow in terms of storytelling” and he and Fayer “just hit it off.”

“While a lot of people are running away from fintech, this is one company worth running toward,” he said, calling the move “Canada-flexing.”

David Soberman, the Canadian national chair in strategic marketing and a professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said this response suggested Reynolds was acting in a role more akin to a spokesperson for Nuvei, alongside his investment.

“Anytime you are partnering with somebody who’s very well known, it’s going to help your brand in terms of awareness,” Soberman said, adding that it was a way for the company to get some attention in a very competitive marketplace.

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Soberman said an analysis of the company and its projection of profitability over the long term seemed to be less of a factor in the relationship.

“Even he admits that he didn’t seem to know much about what the company does,” Soberman noted.

The announcement comes just over a month after Reynold’s partially-owned budget wireless provider Mint Mobile was acquired by U.S. telecom giant T-Mobile for US$1.35 billion.

Reynolds also co-owns Aviation American Gin and Wrexham Football Club.

“If you look at a gin company, a wireless company and a Welsh football club, those things don’t really go together if you think about it but they all have strong brand foundations,” Reynolds told CNBC.

However, Soberman said consumers should have a degree of skepticism when looking at the trend of celebrities backing products in which they may not be experts.

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He pointed to the recent failure of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which was promoted by A-list athletes including football legend Tom Brady, basketball star Steph Curry and tennis player Naomi Osaka.

Nuvei started the year by announcing a major deal. In February, it closed the $1.3 billion acquisition of rival Paya Holdings Inc., a B2B and integrated payments technology provider.

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Both companies have faced an investor retreat that has dragged down the broader tech sector over the past 18 months.

Nuvei’s share price declined from US$137.41 in September 2021 to US$27.92 earlier this year, while Paya’s share price declined from US$14.47 in December 2020 to around the $7 range prior to their deal announcement.

Nuvei’s shares closed up 0.4 per cent at $56.55 April 17 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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