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Claritas-backed Pace Investment makes acquisition in Payments sector
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Updated Nov. 17: In a Nov. 9 regulatory filing, as reported by TechJournalSouth, the parties revealed the investment was about $18.8MM. Our original story:

Pace Investment Partners Inc., a portfolio company of Claritas Capital, today announced a $37 million acquisition of Century Bankcard Services, based in Chatsworth, Calif.

Don McLemore, a Claritas managing partner, told VNC this morning that 10-year-old Century will be led by CEO Paul Christians, who also leads Pace IP; and, by CFO Jerry Christenson, also based in Nashville.

McLemore said the Century transaction also included major investments by Brantley Partners, based in Cleveland, Ohio; and, Prudential, based in New York and drawing on several Prudential units. McLemore declined to provide further financial details.

McLemore (at left) said plans definitely call for Pace IP, founded less than three years ago, to make further acquisitions in the payments and transactions sector, following to some extent in the footsteps of such Nashville companies as iPayment Inc.

Claritas and McLemore, himself, have substantial prior experience in payments and transactions. Claritas' current information services portfolio incudes, in addition to Pace IP, iPayment Inc., on the board of which McLemore served several years; eDo Interactive Inc., a gift- and rewards-card company; and, Gateway Payments, based in Houston.

Century says that n partnership with Global Payments, (NYSE: GPN) it services over 8,000 merchant locations that process more than $1.6 billion in credit card sales annually, in all 50 states

McLemore said Century's headquarters will be colocated in Claritas' Burton Hills offices, in Nashville.

However, yet-to-be determined is the number of Century's nearly 40 employees in California and in a Dallas sales office who will relocate to Nashville, McLemore said. He noted that some of those decisions will be influenced by Pace's further acquisitions of complementary companies.

Claritas made a $1.2 million seed investment in Pace IP more than a year ago, McLemore explained, and since then Christians had been scouting for opportunities and working to secure investment and financing, against the backdrop of a troubled economy.

Prior to joining Claritas, 53-year-old McLemore was a partner and CFO with Nashville-based Massey Burch Capital Corp. A CPA, he has nearly 30 years experience in financial services, and more than 20 years experience in venture capital.

Christians had led Nashville-based Prime Office Products, a Massey Burch portfolio company, on the board of which McLemore served while with Massey. Office-products distributor Prime was sold to Staples Inc., in 2005.

Prior to the sale to Staples, Prime revenue had grown to about $120 million, and its workforce had reached about 500.

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Tags: Brantley Parners, Century Bankcard Services, Claritas Capital, Don McLemore, iPayment, Massey Burch, Pace Investment Partners, payments, Prime Office, Prudential, rollups, Staples, transactions, venture capital

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