SOUTH PORTLAND – WEX Inc. said Tuesday it has suspended its plans to expand and possibly relocate its corporate headquarters.

The credit-card payment processing company had been considering expansion opportunities in Maine, including Portland and South Portland, that would have more than doubled the size of its current headquarters in South Portland.

WEX spokeswoman Trish O’Donnell did not provide any reasons for the decision.

“Over the past year, WEX has considered a variety of potential options for new office space, including possibly expanding at our current location in South Portland,” O’Donnell said Tuesday in a written statement. “We have made a decision to put on hold building a new corporate headquarters.

“We are committed to staying in the Greater Portland area,” she said, “and our interim plan is to secure satellite space for our employees in addition to our current locations.”

O’Donnell declined to elaborate beyond the written statement, other than to say that for “various reasons” the expansion options under consideration weren’t a good fit now.


The announcement comes just days after the company met with South Portland planners and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and indicated it would soon file plans to expand its South Portland campus. The company’s headquarters is on Gorham Road.

WEX processes credit card purchases of fuel and vehicle maintenance. It also has expanded into the market for virtual credit cards in the travel and health care industries.

Last year, WEX confirmed to the Portland Press Herald that it was exploring options for an expanded campus.

WEX had been considering Thompson’s Point in Portland for the expansion. WEX Chairman and CEO Michael E. Dubyak is an investor in the Maine Red Claws, which will play its home games in an arena planned for Thompson’s Point.

Chris Thompson, a partner in Forefront Partners I, the group that will develop Thompson’s Point, said in June that he was working with a large office tenant on the designs of a 175,000-square-foot office building.

On Monday, Thompson told the Press Herald he was now in negotiations with two potential tenants for the office building, but would not comment further. He would not discuss WEX’s expansion efforts Tuesday.


However, WEX had recently signaled that it was prepared to move forward with an expansion at its existing campus in South Portland.

Before Tuesday afternoon’s announcement, South Portland officials were hopeful about those plans.

On July 25, WEX officials and the Massachusetts-based Gutierrez Co. met with South Portland planners and the DEP about building a new, 100,000-square-foot building and parking garage at 225 Gorham Road.

South Portland Planner Steve Puleo said WEX would need a site location permit from the DEP before it could present plans to the Planning Board. “We’re sort of waiting,” said Puleo, who referred follow-up questions to the DEP on Tuesday morning.

WEX had a pre-application meeting with the DEP on July 25 and indicated it would file a site location application with the agency by the end of August, said Marybeth Richardson, licensing and compliance manager for the DEP’s southern Maine office.

“It seemed like this was going to go forward,” Richardson said. “They were looking to see what they could do to make the application process go smoothly.”


Puleo said the DEP meeting was an indication that WEX had made a commitment to a concept and a design.

South Portland Mayor Tom Blake said he was updated two weeks ago about negotiations to keep WEX in South Portland. He declined to provide details, but said he was “optimistic” the two sides would reach an agreement.

South Portland City Manager James Gailey said he was on vacation and did not attend WEX’s meeting with the DEP, but that having the meeting was a “good sign.”

Gailey would not comment about any additional incentives — including extending an existing property tax break — that South Portland is offering the company to stay. WEX has benefited from the 15-year Tax Increment Financing package approved in 2001 and scheduled to end June 30, 2016.

From 2001 through June 30 of this year, South Portland had collected nearly $2.15 million in taxes from WEX and returned about $960,000 to the company, said South Portland Finance Director Greg L’Heureux.

William Caulder, managing director of the Gutierrez Co., said he has been working on WEX’s South Portland expansion project for the past two months, and building designs had been drafted by an architect.


However, a few days after the July 25 meeting, WEX informed the Gutierrez Co. that the project was being put on hold, said Caulder, who expects to have a conference call with WEX in the coming days.

WEX will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Thursday. The company said in a news release Tuesday morning that Dubyak, WEX President Melissa D. Smith, U.S. Sen. Angus King and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell will make brief remarks.

The company reported quarterly earnings last Wednesday. In the second quarter, WEX posted adjusted earnings of $41.1 million on revenues of $178.3 million, topping Wall Street expectations. The company’s stock price has risen more than 40 percent over the past year.

WEX has grown through several acquisitions that have allowed it to expand internationally and diversify into other payment options such as single-use virtual payment cards for the travel industry and health care services.

Its recent acquisitions include last year’s $369 million deal to buy fuel-card company Fleet One. It also acquired 51 percent of UNIK SA, a Brazilian provider of payroll cards, for about $21.9 million, and CorporatePay, a London-based provider of corporate prepaid cards for the travel industry, for about $27.5 million in cash.

WEX employs about 1,400 workers, including more than 600 in Maine.


— Staff Writer Jessica Hall contributed to this report.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @randybillings

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