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Blackhawk Continues Buying Spree with Grass Roots Purchase

Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc. has continued its acquisition binge in the incentive marketplace with the announcement of its $118 million purchase of Grass Roots Holdings Ltd. This follows its recent acquisition of Achievers, a leading U.S. employee recognition and rewards supplier, Giftcards.com, and Extrameasures, a prepaid consumer promotions and incentive company. Prior to that, Blackhawk had purchased Parago, InteliSpend, CardLab and Incentec under the umbrella of Blackhawk Engagement Solutions
According to a company statement, Grass Roots will operate as a subsidiary of Blackhawk. Matthew Howe and Jonathan Kenny, Co-Managing Directors of Blackhawk’s U.K.-based Europe operation, will head up European operations. Stewart Rigby, Managing Director, Blackhawk Asia Pacific, will head up Asia-Pacific operations. The sale is subject to regulatory approval.
This acquisition clearly reflects the ambitions of the company’s engagement unit, Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, to dominate the worldwide business gift card marketplace. Based on Grass Roots’ projected earnings of about $14.6 million at current exchange rates, the purchase price was based on a generous multiple of about eight times earnings. As the only publicly-held company with a division focused on the rewards and recognition marketplace, Blackhawk Engagement Solutions is undoubtedly the largest player in the U.S. and, with this latest purchase, potentially worldwide. 
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