Which deal topped the 2009 M&A roundup?

After we compiled our annual roundup of all the M&A transactions that closed during 2009, we turned the list over to a group of M&A experts. They evaluated the deals according to their impact on the companies involved and the market, including what the transactions indicated about trends in the sector.

Our experts picked the top deals in nine categories. Some had clear-cut winners; one was a three-way tie; others had runners-up.

See if you agree. Post your comment below.

Best overall deal

Best large deal

Best defense deal

Best dealmaker

Best civilian deal

Best private-equity deal

Best midtier deal

Best intelligence-related deal

Best small-business deals

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see our picks for the top deals.

BEST OVERALL DEAL

Buyer: General Atlantic and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts

Target: TASC Inc.

Value: $1.65 billion

Why: This was the first — and so far only — deal, driven by organizational conflicts of interest requirements, which forced Northrop Grumman Corp. to sell its TASC unit. The deal also sets up TASC, with $1.6 billion in annual revenue, as a major new company in the market. The company is expected to pursue large contracts and make acquisitions.

Significantly, the deal marks the entrance into the government services market of two major private equity firms in General Atlantic and KKR. However, a question that remains is whether more conflict of interest-related deals will be made or whether this is a unique situation.

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

BEST LARGE DEAL

Buyer: Dell Inc.

Target: Perot Systems

Value: $3.9 billion

Why: Dell’s primary play in the government market has been around its hardware and related services. But by picking up Perot Systems, Dell made a statement that it sees its future growth coming from services, not hardware. The company needed to bolster its services offerings to keep pace with its chief competitors, IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard.

The deal was the largest acquisition in Dell’s history and also puts reality behind the company’s rhetoric about the government market's importance.

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

BEST DEFENSE DEAL

Buyer: Raytheon Co.

Target: BBN Technologies

Value: $350 million

Why: BBN has a well-earned reputation as a high-end technology company that has always been on the cutting edge. Raytheon has picked up one of the founders of the Internet and other critical defense technologies. The acquisition is a crown jewel for Raytheon as it competes for a variety of communications and networking contracts.

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

BEST DEALMAKER

Buyer: Six3 Systems

Targets: Harding Security Associates and BIT Systems

Why: A year ago, Six3 Systems didn’t exist. But private equity firm GTCR lured Bob Coleman away from ManTech International, where he was chief operating officer, to be chief executive officer, and Six3 went from start-up to closing two deals in less than a year.

The deals have come in the intelligence space, and those companies tend to get a lot of attention from buyers.

GTCR also is a private equity firm that is experienced and successful in the government market, having backed DigitalNet Inc. earlier in this decade.

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

BEST CIVILIAN DEAL

Buyer: ICF International

Target: Macro International Inc.

Value: $129 million

Why: ICF had been trying to buy Macro off and on for several years, but other circumstances always seem to get in the way. (See related story.) The deal is an example of ICF sticking to a market, health and human services, it knows well and can grow in. The deal is the largest the company has made and is with a company that it has a longstanding relationship with. Other than using Evercore Partners to determine the market value of Macro, no outside investment bank was involved.

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

BEST PRIVATE EQUITY DEAL

Buyer: Court Square Capital Partners

Target: Wyle Laboratories

Value: Not disclosed

Why: A private equity group, Court Square Capital Partners had been looking for a platform in the government services space. It bought Wyle from another private equity group, Littlejohn & Co., which acquired Wyle in 2003. Court Square’s plan is to use Wyle to make other acquisitions in the government market.

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

BEST MIDTIER DEAL

Buyer: Deloitte Consulting

Target: BearingPoint

Value: $350 million

Why: For Deloitte, acquiring the bulk of the government business of its one-time competitor effectively doubled its size in the public-sector market. For BearingPoint, the deal closes a sad but remarkable history. Despite all its troubles in recent years, the government business continued to grow and perform well at BearingPoint. Other pieces that Deloitte could not acquire were bought by Attain LLC, Keane Inc. and NIC Inc.

Runner-up: Jacobs Engineering’s acquisition of Tybrin Corp. Tybrin had enough small-business contracts to scare away suitors, but Jacobs was able to structure a deal and further build its services business.

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

BEST INTELLIGENCE-RELATED DEAL

Buyer: Applied Signal Technology Inc.

Target: Pysix Engineering

Value: $16 million

Why: Applied Signal has built a reputation as a strong hardware provider to intelligence agencies. With this acquisition, it makes its first foray into the services space, particularly in the cyber intelligence area. Pysix specializes in systems engineering, software engineering, application architecture, cloud computing, advanced data operations, infrastructure services and project management.

Runner up: Camber Corp.’s acquisition of i2S, which was was Camber’s first intelligence-focused acquisition.

Click next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

BEST SMALL-BUSINESS DEALS

A three-way tie

Deal 1

Buyer: Ernst & Young

Target: Capital City Technologies

Value: Not disclosed

Why: This was Ernst & Young’s first acquisition in the government services market, and it stuck to an area it knows well. Capital City provides financial and back-office systems support to civilian agencies. Ernst & Young is expected to make more acquisitions.

Deal 2

Buyer: Boeing Co.

Target: eXmeritus

Value: Not disclosed

Why: This is an example of a very large business buying a very small one to fill a critical niche. In Boeing’s case, the company had a missing link in its information assurance offering, and eXmeritus had the software fix for it. Reportedly, Boeing brought more people to the due diligence process than work for all of eXmeritus.

Deal 3

Buyer: NCI Information Systems Inc.

Target: TRS Consulting

Value: $16 million

Why: NCI had earned a reputation as a careful but methodical acquirer. With the TRS deal, NCI picked up access to new intelligence customers. With the combined capabilities, which include information sharing and collaboration solutions, NCI will be able to target new intelligence customers and larger projects.

Click previous/next to see another of 2009's top M&A deals, or click here to see the full list of top deals.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

Reader Comments

Mon, Mar 22, 2010

It's Pyxis Engineering, not Pysix...

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