Brookfield Asset Management Ltd. has emerged as the frontrunner to acquire London-listed Network International Holdings Plc after interest from a consortium backed by CVC Capital Partners cooled, according to people familiar with the matter. 

The Canadian investment group, which is in advanced negotiations with the Middle Eastern credit card processor, may be granted a short deadline extension on Thursday to finalize a formal offer, the people said. Buyout firm CVC and its partner Francisco Partners are not keen to engage in a bidding war for the business, they said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Brookfield made a preliminary offer of 400 pence per share for the company in April, valuing the business at £2.1 billion (US$2.6 billion) and topping an earlier 387 pence proposal from CVC and Francisco Partners. Network International extended a deadline for firm bids to June 1 and the Canadian bidder may be given about another week to reach a deal, according to the people. Deliberations are ongoing and talks could still fall apart, they said.

Shares in Network International have risen 23 per cent this year, giving the company a market value of about £1.9 billion. The stock was mostly unchanged in London on Wednesday.

Brookfield has an existing presence in the industry and has been an active investor in the Middle East. Last year, an arm of Brookfield bought control of First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC’s Magnati payments unit in a deal valuing the operation at as much as US$1.15 billion. The potential synergies have given the Canadians an advantage over the buyout competitors, the people said.

Representatives for Brookfield, CVC and Network International declined to comment. A representative for Francisco Partners wasn’t immediately available for comment.