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by Alex Palmer | September 13, 2016
Prepaid solutions provider Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc. will acquire customer and employee engagement firm Grass Roots Group Holdings Ltd. Blackhawk characterized its acquisition of the UK-based solutions provider -- which also has offices in Europe, the Americas, and Asia -- as part of an effort to expand its global footprint.

The $118 million acquisition brings Grass Roots Group's more than 2,000 clients into Blackhawk's fold, allowing it to expand its incentives business portfolio while deepening its European and Asia-Pacific business. At the same time, it will offer these clients with Blackhawk's other gift card and employee engagement offerings.

"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," said Bill Tauscher, executive chairman of Blackhawk, in a statement. "We will also offer new products and capabilities to Grass Roots' clients."

This is only the latest move by Blackhawk to expand its incentive offerings. Since last summer, it has acquired employee recognition and rewards software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider Achievers, prepaid gift card provider Giftcards.com, incentive and rewards solution provider OmniCard, and prepaid consumer and employee incentive company Extrameasures. In 2014, Blackhawk launched its Blackhawk Engagement Solutions division, focusing specifically on custom incentive and engagement offerings,  following its earlier acquisitions of incentive ewards providers Parago, InteliSpend, CardLab, and Incentec.

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

"We are excited to be a part of Blackhawk," said Richard Bandell, CEO of Grass Roots. "Joining Grass Roots with Blackhawk and its industry-leading incentive solutions and prepaid product capabilities allows us to enjoy new scale and scope advantages. We are confident that our customers and partners will benefit greatly from the partnership."