Essex Corp. plans to buy Windermere

Fast-growing optical electronics firm Essex Corp. signed a letter of intent to acquire the Windermere Group LLC, the company said Friday. No financial terms were given.

The deal, subject to due diligence, negotiation of definitive documents and closing conditions, is expected to close during the first quarter of 2005.

Based in Annapolis, Md., Windermere Group is a private information technology company that offers engineering and software services to more than 15 U.S. government agencies and more than 100 commercial clients. It has more than 370 employees, most with high-level security clearances, and annual revenue of more than $64 million.

As part of the deal, Essex will give Windermere a $25 million bridge loan for the purchase by Windermere of the equity interest of a minority shareholder. The loan is repayable with interest if the acquisition is not completed by July 6.

"I believe this acquisition will add depth and breadth to our technical capabilities and will expand our customer base and presence within the intelligence community," said Leonard Moodispaw, Essex's chief executive officer and president.

The acquisition is a continuation of Essex's expansion plan that started last year. In June 2004, Essex purchased Performance Group Inc. of Fredericksburg, Va., for an undisclosed sum. PGI provides geographic information systems, imagery processing and analysis, spatial data development, environmental consulting, visualization and IT solutions to federal and commercial clients.

In April 2004, Essex bought Computer Science Innovations, a Melbourne, Fla., company focused on cognitive processing technology.

Based in Columbia, Md., Essex offers advanced signal, image and information processing solutions for U.S. government intelligence and defense communities and for commercial customers. The company posted revenue of $51.5 million for the first nine months of 2004 compared to $11.2 million for the first nine months of 2003.

In November, Essex increased its 2004 revenue guidance to $66 million-$68 million, including $7 million-$8 million from its two previous acquisitions. The company also set its 2005 revenue guidance at $90 million-$100 million before any further acquisitions.

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