Evolution Benefits Inc., the company that developed the Benny card benefits account payment card system, and Lighthouse1 L.L.C., a Web-based benefit plan administration services firm, have agreed to merge.

Evolution Benefits, Avon, Conn. and Lighthouse1 will combine operations under the name Evolution1 after they receive approvals from regulators, the companies say.

Evolution Benefits has about 3.6 million cards in circulation and serves 300 health plans, benefit plan administrators and other plan administrators.

Lighthouse1 systems provide administration services for plans with about 2.7 million enrollees.

The combined company will have relationships with 50,000 employers and 400 plan administrators, the companies say.

Once the deal is completed:

  • Robert Patricelli, the chairman and founder of Evolution Benefits, who founded the company in 2001, will retire from active management and become vice chairman of the board.
  • Jeff Young, chief executive officer (CEO) of Lighthouse1, will become chairman and CEO of the merged company.
  • Chris Byrd, president and chief operating officer (COO) of Evolution Benefits, will become president and COO of Evolution1.

“Evolution1 is committed to maintaining and investing in all of its current products, the Benny benefits debit card, the Lighthouse1 cloud computing software platform and the [Evolution Benefits] PayDirect client server software solution,” Byrd says in a statement about the deal.

Genstar Capital L.L.C., San Francisco, acquired Evolution Benefits in July 2010, and Genstar is financing the current transaction, Evolution Benefits and Lighthouse1 say.

James Nadauld, a principal at Genstar, said in July 2010 that Genstar believed Evolution Benefits would be poised for growth as consumers and employers migrate away from manually submitting claims.

Genstar will continue to help Evolution1 improve its position in the health care market by making acquisitions and developing new products, Nadauld says in a statement accompanying the Evolution Benefits-Lighthouse1 deal announcement.

- Allison Bell

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