Wright Express continues global expansion, buys major stake in Brazilian company

Posted Aug. 31, 2012, at 5:54 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 31, 2012, at 7:15 p.m.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Wright Express, the business payment processor based in South Portland, is expanding its global reach with a $21.9 million investment in a Brazilian company.

The deal is enough to acquire a 51 percent stake in UNIK S.A., a privately held Brazilian company that provides payroll cards and other payment processing services for the retail, government and transportation sectors, Wright Express said in a media release. The deal includes the potential to acquire the UNIK’s remaining shares over the next three years.

The investment marks Wright Express’ debut in the Brazilian marketplace, according to CEO Michael Dubyak. “As a large and growing economy, Brazil is a very attractive market,” Dubyak said in a statement. “We are excited about this venture because of the synergies for expanding into the fleet market and extending our payroll card presence through UNIK’s products in Brazil.”

UNIK has approximately 8,000 corporate clients with 4 million cards that can be used to make purchases through its proprietary network of approximately 30,000 commercial establishments, according to Wright Express.

Wright Express’ investment in UNIK comes on the heels of another overseas acquisition. In May, the company acquired CorporatePay, a U.K.-based company that provides corporate prepaid services to the travel industry, for roughly $27.5 million.

Global expansion is one of Wright Express’ three primary growth strategies, Jessica Roy, the company’s director of corporate communications, told the Bangor Daily News in an email. “Our three-pronged strategy [involves] expanding our Americas fleet business, diversifying our revenue streams and building out our international presence,” Roy said. “Our alliance with UNIK … supports each component of our expansion strategy.”

In early August, Wright Express posted revenue of $153.1 million for the second quarter of 2012, an 8 percent jump from the $141.3 million it reported for the second quarter of 2011.

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