M&A

2 transactions show at least some private equity deals are getting done

The past seven days have seen one private equity firm announce a new investment that at least touches the federal market, while another PE-backed contractor detailed a move to reshape and further hone itself.

In the case of Carlyle Group, the investment firm has re-acquired a company it owned in the latter 2000s. Carlyle said Monday it has purchased Unison, a provider of software for federal agencies and government contractors to use in managing procurement, supply chain and other contract functions.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal represents an exit for Unison’s now-former backer in Abry Partners, which purchased Unison in 2015 when it was known as Compusearch and co-owned by Arlington Capital Partners and JMI Equity.

Compusearch then rebranded itself to Unison last year in an effort to cover all of the brands under its umbrella including that of FedBid, which was purchased in late 2017.

Equity capital for this investment came from Carlyle Partners VII, an $18.5 billion fund closed in July 2018 at an all-time record high for the firm.

Kirkland & Ellis provided legal advisory services to Unison and Abry Partners. Latham & Watkins provided legal advisory services and PwC provided financial advisory services to Carlyle.

Prior to that, defense electronics outfit Sparton Corp. said Friday it would focus exclusively on that piece of the business and has sold its contract manufacturing unit to One Equity Partners, a middle market private equity firm.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed but Sparton touts the divestiture as making the company even more of a pure-play supplier of engineered products for the defense sector. Sparton is a partner in the ERAPSCO joint venture that is the Navy’s primary supplier of sonobuoys.

Sparton was itself acquired by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in March of last year after a nearly two-year-long process to find a buyer.

“This is an important milestone for both our defense products and contract manufacturing businesses, which have operated in separate industries with distinct long-term strategies,” Sparton CEO Bill Toti said in a releasee. “Now, these leading platforms will be able to focus on their respective core strengths and capitalize on opportunities specific to each business.”

The sale is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Lincoln International LLC is serving as financial adviser to Sparton and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as Sparton’s legal counsel.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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