Portland-based payment technology firm Wex Inc. has secured a $400 million investment from an affiliate of New York-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, the company announced Monday.

The investment is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the next several days, it said.

Wex CEO Melissa Smith Press Herald file photo

Wex also has obtained an amendment to its existing senior secured credit facilities providing it with increased financial flexibility, the company said in a news release. The combination of the investment and the credit agreement amendment will strengthen its financial profile and will enable the company to remain focused on its strategic initiatives as it navigates the global COVID-19 pandemic, it said.

“We are pleased to further fortify our balance sheet during the current uncertain operating environment while reaffirming our relationship with Warburg Pincus, (which) has demonstrated (its) strong commitment to the future growth of Wex,” company Chair and CEO Melissa Smith said in the release. “The combination of this investment and the recent credit agreement amendment put us in an even stronger financial position with additional financial flexibility, improved liquidity and increased cash on hand.”

Plummeting fuel prices and an abrupt decline in corporate travel because of the coronavirus pandemic have prompted Wex to make significant cutbacks to its workforce. In April, the company laid off 2 percent of its U.S. employees and temporarily furloughed another 3 percent. As a result, 45 workers in Maine have lost their jobs permanently and another 90 have been placed on furlough.

Chandler Reedy and Stephanie Geveda, managing directors at Warburg Pincus, said in the release that given their “deep familiarity” and relationship with the company, “we are confident Wex has the capabilities and resources to emerge from the current environment stronger than ever.”

Founded in 1983 as Wright Express Corporation, Wex offers payment-processing services to the vehicle fleet, corporate travel, health care and employee benefit industries. The company went public in 2005, took on its current name in 2012 and last spring moved into new headquarters at the corner of Hancock and Thames streets across from Portland’s eastern waterfront.

In February, the Scarborough Town Council granted Wex an annual tax break of $150,000 for 15 years, for a total of $2.25 million, on a new operations center to be built at The Downs as part of a mixed-use redevelopment of the harness-racing property.

Wex reported revenue of $1.72 billion in 2019, higher than any previous year. The company has roughly 1,500 employees in Greater Portland and about 4,700 worldwide.


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