From staff reports

WEX Inc. on Monday announced it would acquire a technology company in the health care sector for more than $500 million.

The South Portland-based payment company, which has traditionally provided fuel payment solutions for companies with fleets of vehicles, will acquire Fargo, North Dakota-based Evolution1 for $532.5 million in cash, according to a news release. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2014.

The deal will help WEX move into the health care industry and diversify the markets it serves.

“The acquisition of Evolution1 advances WEX’s long-term strategy to extend our scalable business model into high-growth, high-value markets with complex payment systems,” Melissa Smith, WEX’s president and CEO, said in the statement.

Smith called the health care sector an “attractive vertical” and said Evolution1 will serve as “the cornerstone” of WEX’s growing health care practice.

This is the latest in a number of acquisitions WEX has made over the past few years. Last year, it acquired the Fleet One fuel card company for $369 million. Other recent deals include buying 51 percent of UNIK SA, a Brazilian provider of payroll cards, for roughly $21.9 million, and paying about $27.5 million in cash for CorporatePay, a London-based provider of corporate prepaid cards for the travel industry.

Smith, who assumed the CEO title in January, said in a telephone interview in April that WEX was still “actively looking” at acquisition opportunities in Brazil, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America that would grow its business and allow it to expand into other sectors, including travel and health care.

WEX’s operations include WEX Bank, Fleet One, Pacific Pride, rapid! PayCard, WEX Australia, WEX New Zealand and WEX Europe, and it holds a majority equity position in WEX Europe Services and UNIK S.A., Brazil. WEX and its subsidiaries employ more than 1,400 people. In April, WEX reported its revenue for the first quarter was $182.1 million​, a 10.1 percent increase from $165.4 million during the same quarter last year. It reported revenue of more than $717 million in 2013.

The company’s stock price has increased roughly 25 percent in the past year, closing at $98.80 on Monday afternoon.

Evolution1 has 300 employees at its headquarters in Fargo. Its CEO, Jeff Young, said the move will allow his company to offer better services in payment processing, account servicing and transaction processing to customers with increasing health care management needs. In 2013, the company processed over 65 million transactions and $5 billion in payment volume.