M&A

Acquisition revives SOSi's intelligence business

As the market begins to stabilize and with agencies knowing what their budgets are, you want your company to be at 100 percent. Sometimes, if a business unit is struggling, the way to come back strong is to acquire.

That's what SOS International (SOSi) did when it picked up New World Solutions to help augment its intelligence solutions business.

SOSi's intelligence business has its roots leading back to when it was founded in 1989 by Sosi Setian as a foreign language and cultural advisory services provider for law enforcement agencies. In 1994, current president and CEO Julian Setian—son of Sosi—joined the company. For the next few years, it was business as usual until SOSi won its first contract with the Defense Department in 1998 and expanded its client base.

Over time, SOSi began providing analytical support to the intelligence community to supplement the language work the company was already doing, Setian told Washington Technology.

“We started providing technical systems integration support, computer operation support and some development work for both our traditional law enforcement clients as well as other clients in [the Defense Department],” he said.

The new work caused SOSi to reorganize itself into two business groups: mission solutions, which contains the company’s long range logistic, sustainment, construction and operation and maintenance work, and intelligence solutions, which is a combination of language services, intelligence analysis, technology integration and some research and development.

However, Setian said, the company’s intelligence solutions work began to dwindle over time. That’s when the company began looking at acquisitions in an effort to diversify and scale up its intelligence solutions work.

“New World was presented to us originally by an investment bank, and we went through a formal bidding process, but it didn’t culminate in a deal at the end,” he said. But SOSi would not stop there. “We actually went back and reenergized the discussion with them after the auction process fell through and got them interested in talking to us again.”

Eight months later, after many negotiations, the deal was completed.

Based in Fairfax, Va., New World Solutions’ customers include the National Ground Intelligence Center, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office as well as other intelligence agencies.

The match made sense especially since SOSi had already done work with the National Ground Intelligence Center, Setian said.

New World Solutions will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary within SOSi’s intelligence solutions group and will be headed up by its New World president and co-founder, Harry Looney.

And while New World Solutions might have been SOSi’s first acquisition, it may not be the company’s last. “We’ve got a pretty aggressive set of growth targets between now and 2020, and about 40 percent we’re anticipating is going to come from acquisitions,” Setian said.

The goal for the future is to shine as a middle market company in an environment where middle market companies are not very common in the intelligence space, Setian said.

The company is in a good spot, he added. “We finance ourselves, we have no outside institutional money, but we’ve got a good base of resources to use, so we’re expecting we’re going to be one of the breakout middle market companies that eventually becomes one of the better known large business primes on a lot of these big IDIQ contracts.”

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at mhoover@washingtontechnology.com, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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