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September 25, 2014

Wheelings & Dealings: Blackhawk Acquires Parago to Expand Prepaid Card Incentive Program

The offering of prepaid debit cards is not as straightforward as it may seem. Incentive programs cover the landscape, and engagement companies attempt to draw in businesses with rebate programs and consumer promotions. Parago is one such global engagement management company, and it has recently been acquired by a similar network company that distributes prepaid cards across its own global network, Blackhawk Network.

Blackhawk has acquired Parago for approximately $290 million in cash, and it will be making that purchase possible both with cash on hand and about $200 million in new borrowings, the official announcement states. Although Blackhawk currently operates in a worldwide market, it says engagement programs can help businesses better work with their own individual customers, and with its latest acquisition, Blackhawk should be better prepared to expand the incentives it offers to its business customers.

Talbott Roche, Blackhawk's president, spoke in the announcement about how Parago can help Blackhawk deliver better incentives.

"Blackhawk is excited to add Parago's capabilities and leadership to our growing corporate incentive business," Roche said. "Parago's award-winning solutions will allow us to deliver expanded capabilities and products and enhance Blackhawk's leadership position in the consumer and corporate incentives markets. Their business complements our solutions from InteliSpend and CardLab, two other leading incentives businesses that we acquired over the past twelve months."

About three years ago, Parago began its Parago Reward Ordering Portal which provides organizations with a central portal for ordering and managing Visa prepaid cards and rewards. It is programs like that which are helping drive the prepaid card market in countries such as Canada and Japan. TMC noted recently that the prepaid card market in Canada is expected to grow by more than 14 percent this year. Meanwhile, from 2009 to 2013, TMC also reported that the number of prepaid cards in circulation rose to 980.9 million cards at a compound annual growth rate of 2.94 percent during that period.

Parago will continue to operate as a subsidiary of Blackhawk and will retain its headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Juli Spottiswood, president and CEO of Parago, who said she believes her company's customers will benefit from the partnership, will head Blackhawk's incentive business and report directly to Blackhawk as the companies move forward.




Edited by Maurice Nagle




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