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Phoenix Merchant Processing Inc., a Beaverton, Ore.-based independent sales organization, is for sale following nearly two years of control by a court-ordered receivership. "The plan from the get-go has been to sell the business," Jim Keller, Phoenix CEO, tells CardLine sister publication ISO&Agent Weekly. In April 2007, the Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into deceptive business practices it alleged were made by the previous owners of the ISO, then known as Merchant Processing Inc. (CardLine, 4/17/07). In 2008, the company changed its name to Phoenix Merchant Processing (CardLine, 5/21/08) following a $26 million settlement the FTC reached with the defendants. According to the FTC, the defendants' operation falsely promised it would save merchants hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in processing fees by offering lower rates than the merchants' established processors. The defendants also allegedly offered to buy out merchants' equipment leases as part of their offers, failed to disclose fees and concealed pages of fine print until after merchants signed contracts. Keller, who was hired by Michael A. Grassmueck, the receiver appointed to the case by the U.S. District Court of Oregon in 2007 to run the ISO after it had been placed into receivership, says Phoenix is for sale because it has returned to accepted business practices and has cleaned up the merchant portfolio. Those merchants that felt Merchant Processing wronged them have left, and the sales staff has been rebuilt, Keller says. Following these moves, Keller wanted several months operating as Phoenix to establish the ISO's overhauled merchant portfolio. Phoenix has about 2,000 merchants that handle about 300,000 monthly transactions valued at approximately $18 million. Phoenix is under no deadline to sell, and buyers could choose to buy the entire operation or just the merchant portfolio, Grassmueck says. Neither Grassmueck nor Keller is too concerned about selling the ISO during tough economic times. "We're selling cash flow," Keller says. "There are going to be people interested in it." Other than subject to a review by federal judge, which could take up to 30 days, sale of the ISO should be similar to any other business deal, Grassmueck says.

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