Off to an Acquisitive Start: MINDBODY, Paya, ClassPass

Despite significant M&A movement within the payments industry over the past couple of years, the activity doesn’t appear to be over. In fact, at the end of last year, Rick Oglesby, president of AZ Payments Group, predicted that acquisition would pick up in 2019 – and so far, the year is not disappointing.

First up, MINDBODY. Last fall Dan Chandre, vice president of strategic development for the company, which caters to the boutique health, fitness and beauty industry, spoke to an audience at PF WORLD 2018. He told them that the changing relationship between software vendors and payments was enabling businesses like his to focus on the merchant experience.

“We believe that we drive a lot of the value to the merchant, and we believe there are a lot of partners … that understand that. So, we want to put out there what we want to do as a business, and we’re going to see who wants to run along with us,” he said.

Apparently, they found one such runner in investment firm Vista Partners. The firm plans to acquire MINDBODY at a value of $1.9 billion, the company said in December.

“MINDBODY’s purpose is to help people lead healthier, happier lives by connecting the world to fitness, beauty and wellness,” Rick Stollmeyer, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said in a press release. “We are thrilled to provide immediate liquidity to our shareholders at a significant premium to market prices and to leverage Vista’s resources and deep expertise to accelerate our growth while achieving that purpose more effectively than ever before.”

The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2019. This follows MINDBODY’s own acquisition of Booker Software last March.

Next, there’s Paya. Last November, payments provider Paya acquired Stewardship Technologies in a bid to boost its integrated payments capabilities and access to faith-based organizations, which it saw as an underserved market.

This week, just two months later, Paya announced further plans to build out its capabilities and expand its verticals by acquiring First Billing Services (FBS). FBS provides electronic bill payment and presentment services for utilities and municipal governments.

“The deep expertise, technology and proven success that the FBS team has achieved with utilities and governments complements the work Paya has already completed to enable the most flexible, vertically tailored and integrated commerce solutions,” Jeff Hack, CEO of Paya, said in a release. “We’re delighted to welcome our FBS colleagues and support FBS’s growth plans while also making these capabilities available to all Paya partners.”

Paya is a private equity-backed firm that was acquired by GTCR in 2017.

And finally, U.S.-based fitness aggregator ClassPass announced earlier this week that it is planning to expand its international footprint by acquiring GuavaPass, which provides a fitness membership network across the Middle East and Asia.

According to a press release, the deal will give ClassPass operations in 11 cities: Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Mumbai, Shanghai and Singapore.

“We’re thrilled to acquire GuavaPass’ assets and select talent and continue building the biggest fitness membership for our customers, and the largest global network for our partners. This transaction will only accelerate our robust growth trajectory as we continue expanding throughout Asia and the Middle East,” ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman said in the release.

“While acquiring competition is not part of our growth strategy, it’s clear that GuavaPass’ founders and team are committed to a common mission and we look forward to welcoming them to ClassPass as we continue global expansion.”