As senior vice president of corporate development at Wex Inc. (NYSE: WEX), Nicola Morris has been actively seeking targets ever since she joined the company from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) in 2014. “We’ve been very busy on the acquisition front,” Morris says. In 2015, South Portland, Maine-based Wex bought healthcare payments software provider Benaissance and in 2016, the company paid more than $1 billion for fleet payments company Electronic Funds Source LLC from Warburg Pincus.
While several potential bidders were skeptical that Warburg was willing to exit Electronic Funds so quickly, because the PE firm had acquired it in 2014, Morrris took a “why not?’” strategy in approaching the company. “I always start with the perspective ‘why not?” says Morris. Wex usually finds targets through its own industry research as well as fielding calls from investment bankers and private equity firms. Morris says Wex typically looks for acquisitions that will expand the company geographically or into new markets.
In 2014, Wex acquired healthcare software payments company Evolution1, which gave the company an entry into the healthcare sector. “Nicola’s ability to articulate the ‘why’ is what allowed us to move so quickly and decisively in this new vertical,” says Wex CEO Melissa Smith.
As for future deals, Morris says that Wex’s pipeline “is very full” but she declined to go into specifics.