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EXCLUSIVE-HealthEquity approaches WageWorks with acquisition bid -sources

Greg Roumeliotis

NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - HealthEquity Inc, a U.S. custodian of health savings accounts, has approached WageWorks Inc, an administrator of employee benefits, with an offer to acquire it, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

A deal would represent the boldest bet yet of HealthEquity Chief Executive Jon Kessler, a benefits taxation specialist who founded WageWorks in 2000 before joining HealthEquity in 2009. It would create a larger administrator of consumer-directed health, commuter and employee benefit plans.

There is no certainty that talks between HealthEquity and WageWorks will result in a deal, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Details of HealthEquity's offer could not be learned.

HealthEquity and WageWorks did not respond to requests for comment. They have market capitalizations of $4.6 billion and $1.7 billion, respectively.

Based in Draper, Utah, WageWorks offers a platform that connects 141 health, retirement and other benefit plan providers with employees at more than 45,000 companies. It is responsible for about 4 million health saving accounts.

Based in San Mateo, California, WageWorks administers pre-tax spending accounts, such as health savings accounts, as well as commuter benefit services, including transit and parking benefits and wellness programs.

Last year, WageWorks replaced its CEO and top management after announcing it had improperly reported some earnings figures and had to restate its financial results. The CEO role is now held by Edgar Montes, who joined WageWorks in 2006 from American Express Co. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York Editing by Bill Rigby)