TOP STORY: Grass Roots bloom after global firm Blackhawk takes over

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Global company Grass Roots Group, an employee and customer engagement solutions company with a well-established meetings and events division, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Blackhawk Network Holdings, a leading prepaid and payments global company based in California.

The acquisition, which is set to cost NY Stock Exchange-listed Blackhawk approximately £90m (US$118m), is expected to allow Grass Roots to offer new products and capabilities to its current clients. It will also enable Grass Roots to take advantage of Blackhawk’s global network.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) must yet approve the acquisition, which they are expected to do within the next 30 to 120 days. Grass Roots’ entities are estimated at approximately £11m for full calendar year 2016.

The move is also expected to be an opportunity for Blackhawk to extend its global footprint in the UK by offering global reward and incentive products to its clients through Grass Roots’ leading employee and customer engagement solutions. One of the business divisions of Grass Roots offers services in corporate event planning and production, strategic meeting management, delegate management and registration technology. This acquisition allows Blackhawk to tap into Grass Roots’ existing expertise of meeting and events management and add an important element to its portfolio.

Richard Bandell, CEO of Grass Roots, said: “We are really excited about the opportunities this partnership brings to Grass Roots. Joining Blackhawk opens up significant growth opportunities, transforming us into a leading global business and allowing us to inspire more people worldwide. Together, the two companies will have increased scale and scope, and we will bring those benefits to our clients and partners.”

Blackhawk executive chairman Bill Tauscher said: “The acquisition of Grass Roots complements the existing client portfolio of Blackhawk’s incentives business, and enhances solutions for customers requiring global reward and incentive platforms and products. We will also offer new products and capabilities to Grass Roots’ clients.”

Talbott Roche, CEO and president of Blackhawk, added: “The Grass Roots team has extensive industry experience and a proven track record of success in the consumer and employee engagement markets. We are thrilled to welcome them and over 2,000 managed service clients to the Blackhawk family.”

Grass Roots will operate as a subsidiary of Blackhawk. Matthew Howe and Jonathan Kenny, co-managing directors of Blackhawk’s UK-based Europe operations, will lead the European operations. Stewart Rigby, managing director, Blackhawk Asia Pacific, will lead the Asia-Pacific operations.

Founded in the UK in 1980, the Grass Roots has 12 offices throughout the world and has provided services in over 100 countries. Grass Roots Group companies have over 20,000 clients, including one-third of the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100.

This story was updated on 1 September at 3.50pm.

Martin Fullard

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Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard is the Deputy Editor at Conference News. Formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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