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Wright Express Acquires Fleet One

Zacks Equity Research

Just a month after the agreement was announced, Wright Express Corp. (WXS) has completed the acquisition of Fleet One – a fuel cards, financial services and fleet management information services provider – after obtaining necessary approvals from regulatory bodies. Following the culmination of the purchase from private equity firms – LLR Partners and FTV Capital – Fleet One has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wright Express.

The entire purchase consideration of $369 million was paid in cash using Wright Express’ credit facility. Merrill Lynch, a unit of Bank of America Corporation (BAC), acted as Wright Express’ financial advisor for the deal, while FT Partners was the same for Fleet One.

When the acquisition was announced in September, Wright Express had revealed that it expected adjusted net income, excluding one-time charges related to the acquisition, to increase immediately following the takeover. The company also anticipated receiving present value of tax benefits worth $100 million from the deal. However, the company did not confirm these gains after the conclusion of the purchase deal.

The acquisition is expected to be beneficial for Wright Express as the local fleet and private label business of Fleet One is complementary to its core fleet business. Thus, it will help expand the company’s fleet business in America. Moreover, Fleet One’s well-established over-the-road business is expected to not only boost Wright Express’ acceptance in Canada, but also enhance its customer service ability toward the mixed fleet and co-branded customers by adding to its product capabilities.

The acquisition will also significantly strengthen Wright Express’ fuel cards business as Fleet One has a strong footing in both over-the-road and local fleet markets, with about 210,000 active cards in circulation in September 2012. These cards are accepted at 60,000 locations, out of which 6,700 are over-the-road locations. Further, the purchase will help the company to venture into the U.S. and Canadian heavy truck markets, where Fleet One has a significant presence.

Wright Express, which competes with FleetCor Technologies, Inc. (FLT) and U.S. Bancorp (USB), has been working on augmenting its fleet business and other payment solutions to widen its international presence. In August this year, the company announced the acquisition of a 51% stake in UNIK S.A. – a privately-held payroll cards provider based in Brazil – for US$21.9 million (R$44.7 million).

Wright Express also holds the option to buy the remaining 49% stake over the upcoming three years. The acquisition marks Wright Express’ initial stride into the Brazilian market, which offers attractive opportunities for growth.

Earlier, in May, Wright Express acquired CorporatePay – a company that offers corporate prepaid solutions to the travel industry in the United Kingdom – for US$27.8 million (GBP 17 million).

Wright Express carries a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.

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