Information technology (IT) and consulting businesses have continued to attract private equity attention and dollars.  For IT businesses contracting with the federal government, there are additional attractions for private equity investors.

Benefits of Federal Businesses

For starters, federal government business is not as exposed to the vagaries of the U.S. consumer economy as pure B2B or B2C businesses. It is true that the federal sales cycles can be much longer than in the commercial sector.  However, this cuts both ways as once a contract is awarded, it tends to be relatively long-term (up to five years in most cases) and the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) procurement requirements disincentivize the government from terminating a contract for convenience, thus protecting the business from cost-undercutting, at least until a re-compete.

There are also high barriers to entry into the federal marketplace, including regulatory compliance programs and requirements to demonstrate experience. Finally, the size and creditworthiness of the customer, coupled with the relative “stickiness” of contracts awarded, make these investments financeable by lenders knowledgeable about the sector.  Given these attributes, it is little wonder that more and more private equity sponsors are expanding into the federal market space.


Continue Reading Revisiting Private Equity Investment in Federal IT Contractors

On Wednesday, June 24, Bass, Berry & Sims continued its COVID-19 M&A Environment: Dealmaker Perspectives Webinar series with leading professionals in the government contracts services industry. The panelists included Bass, Berry & Sims members Jason Northcutt and Todd Overman, who were joined by Craig Reed, Chief Growth Officer and Senior Vice President at Serco; Kate Troendle, Director at KippsDeSanto & Company; and Eric Wolking, Operating Partner at Bluestone Investment Partners. A recording of the webinar can be found here.

The panelists’ discussion focused on market considerations for deal professionals in the new and evolving era of COVID-19. Some of the key takeaways from this installment are listed below.

  • Market Improvement Observations. As with other sectors, the government contracts services industry experienced a slowdown in deal flow as participants assessed the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and endured the chilling effects of the implementation of quarantine procedures. However, the government contracts services industry was impacted less severely than other industries as smaller, quality transactions continued to close over the past few months. Notably, the indexed share price performance for government services continued to trade above the S&P 500 and recently rebounded to near-record highs achieved in February.
    Continue Reading Key Takeaways from the COVID-19 M&A Environment: Government Contracts Dealmaker Perspectives Webinar

I am excited to be presenting, “Realizing the Desired Reward on Exit,” at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) New England Chapter’s Getting Your Government Contract Business from Spring to Summer event on May 22, 2019 in Burlington, Massachusetts.

This advanced workshop will provide benefit across the spectrum from firms providing services to the federal

Just a few days into Donald Trump’s presidency, he has already taken actions that raise potential challenges and opportunities for federal contractors. In his Memorandum of January 23, 2017, Trump imposed a hiring freeze on civilian employees.  The order also states that “[c]ontracting outside the Government to circumvent the intent of this memorandum shall not be permitted.”  The order requires the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition” within 90 days (i.e., late April of this year). The order will expire upon implementation of the OMB plan.  In the short-term, this creates obvious challenges for agencies and their contractors seeking new employees to perform government services.

Continue Reading New Administration Signals New Challenges and Opportunities for Federal Contractors

Government contractors are learning the hard way that agencies need to be kept apprised of major changes within the company during the entire period of bid evaluations. Most recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) made an example of Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems, Inc. (LMIS), which was excluded from awards for failure to disclose its spin-off agreement with Leidos.

Continue Reading Buyer Beware: Lessons of Disclosure Learned the Hard Way

Recently, Bass, Berry & Sims co-hosted (along with investment banking firm Bluestone Capital Partners and accounting firm BDO) a CEO panel discussion on “Building Shareholder Value in the Mid-Tier.”  Panelists included Chris Coleman, CEO of LookingGlass Cyber Solutions. Paul Leslie, CEO of Dovel Technologies. and Julian Setian, CEO of SOS International. Tim Garnett of The Avascent Group delivered a keynote presentation. The focus of the event was to discuss strategies for middle-market government contractors to build value for shareholders.

Continue Reading Growth Strategies for the Middle Tier

Recent mergers and acquisitions activity among government contractors has been frothy, especially in the government services sector. What has been driving all the activity? Elevated stock prices and readily available credit has certainly accounted for some of it, at least until the recent decline of capital markets at the end of 2015 and thus far in 2016. However, even with the capital markets decline, there are macro trends specific to government services that at least partially counteract the decline of the broader market and cause many in the sector to remain relatively bullish on continued M&A activity.

The most important of these macro trends are contract vehicle consolidation and a shift toward low price-technically acceptable (LPTA) awards. During President Obama’s term, in the name of budgetary concerns, the administration has worked with agencies to reduce the number of federal contracts by consolidating contracts into fewer and larger vehicles. Mid-sized government services players need to grow larger to be able to continue to compete for these larger vehicles. They often seek growth by acquiring other contractors with sought-after, differentiated capabilities and deep customer relationships. Buyers are choosy when it comes to acquisitions, and contract consolidation has made it more difficult to accurately analyze whether a target’s contracts will be eliminated altogether or consolidated into a larger vehicle. This makes valuations a challenge, which helps explain why we see a fair number of earn-outs based on renewals of specific contracts. However, companies with coveted prime positions on full and open contract awards with a good backlog can find themselves highly desired targets.


Continue Reading Will M&A in Government Services Continue to Outperform?