State Bankshares, the parent company of Bell Bank, one of the nation’s largest independently owned banks, today announced that it has signed an agreement to sell its wholly-owned subsidiary, Discovery Benefits, Inc., to WEX, a leading global provider of payment processing and business solutions.
Under the terms of the agreement, WEX will pay State Bankshares total cash consideration of approximately $425 million. In addition, State Bankshares will retain an approximately 5% equity interest in the combination of Discovery Benefits and WEX’s health division. The transaction is expected to close in Q1, subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.
Discovery Benefits was started by Bell Bank in 2003 and is one of the fastest-growing administrators of consumer-directed benefits, including health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts. What began with seven employees has grown over the past 15 years to a company that now employs 900 people at its Fargo headquarters and in Brookings, S.D.
Bell Bank president and CEO Michael Solberg stated that this opportunity developed because of WEX’s commitment to employees and the Fargo market. With the addition of the Discovery Benefits team, WEX will employ more than 1,100 people in Fargo, West Fargo and Brookings.
“Bell Bank remains not for sale,” Solberg emphasized.
“The best part of this transaction is that Bell gets to continue to remain a part of building something special in our community,” Solberg said. “I’m extremely proud of the people at Discovery Benefits and the growth they’ve achieved. I’m excited for Bell’s continued investment and role with WEX moving forward.”