Grass Roots Group, a leading provider of employee and customer engagement solutions, has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc., a leading prepaid and payments company based in California, for approximately £90 million. Livingstone advised the shareholders of Grass Roots Group on the transaction. The closing of the transaction is subject to completion of certain filings with and approval by Germany’s Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office).

Founded in the UK in 1980 by David Evans MBE, Grass Root’s shareholders also include WPP plc and current and former management, all of whom are selling their shares in this transaction.

Passionate about inspiring people, the Grass Roots Group connects brands and people, through services such as Experience and Insight, Motivation, Rewards, Benefits, Promotions and Meetings and Events. Founded in the UK in 1980, the Group has 12 offices throughout the world and has provided services in over 100 countries. Grass Roots Group companies have over 20,000 total clients, including one-third of the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100.

Richard Bandell, CEO of Grass Roots, commented: “We are really excited about the opportunities this partnership brings to Grass Roots. Joining Blackhawk opens up significant growth opportunities for Grass Roots, transforming us into a leading global business and allowing us to inspire more people worldwide.

“Throughout the transaction, the team at Livingstone have demonstrated an excellent grasp of the sector and supported us with first-class advice and technical knowledge to ensure the right outcome for the shareholders and the company. The complex nature of the transaction, with its multiple cross-border stakeholders played to Livingstone’s international strengths.”


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Simon Cope-Thompson, Partner at Livingstone, added: “There is an excellent strategic fit between Grass Roots and Blackhawk. We are delighted to have been able to help the shareholders of Grass Roots sell the business to a new partner that brings further international reach and increased scale and scope.”

James Local, Director at Livingstone, concluded: “This is the second deal we have concluded with a West Coast buyer since we opened our office in Los Angeles and the third deal with a US buyer in the past month. This is further evidence of the continued appetite for large international groups to invest in successful companies in the UK.”