Nuvei Corp. has begun discussions and is reviewing expressions of interest in a potential deal, responding to a Wall Street Journal report that private equity firm Advent International is close to buying out the Canadian payments processor.

The firm, which is backed by “Deadpool” actor Ryan Reynolds, said it’s formed a special committee to consider an unspecified transaction as well as “strategic alternatives.” Such a deal may involve shareholders including Nuvei founder and Chief Executive Officer Phil Fayer, the company said in a statement. A deal could be announced soon, though talks could still fall apart, the Journal reported earlier, citing people familiar with the matter.

Nuvei, which provides payments services to the sports betting industry, has a market capitalization of about $4.1 billion. Its shares have declined 47 per cent over the past year.

“No decision has been made at this time whether to pursue a transaction or maintain the status quo,” the firm said in its statement.

After Reynolds invested in Nuvei last April in a deal that didn’t disclose financial terms, Spruce Point Capital Management published a critical report on the payments firm — the second time in two years the short-seller has gone after the company. 

In part, the report questioned Nuvei’s US$1.3 billion acquisition of payments platform Paya Holdings Inc. last year.