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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Rick Knop: Always the dealmaker

You couldn’t blame Rick Knop if he wanted to rest on his laurels; after all, he’s spent a couple decades making deals as an investment banker in the government space.

He helped launch and build Boles Knop & Co., and then the Windsor Group, into two of the leading merger and acquisition shops in the market. He’s closed acquisitions with some of the biggest companies in the industry.

So, after staying on a few years with the Windsor Group after it was acquired by BB&T, it would have been understandable if he took it easy.

Instead, Knop, along with Leslee Belluchie, his wife and business partner (a former Serco executive and one of the architects of SI International, which Serco acquired) jumped to the other side of the coin, and formed FedCap Partners, a private equity firm. That was in 2010, and the idea was to primarily be a minority investor to small businesses who need help breaking out of that $50 million level.

But that strategy has shifted to something larger and more direct; FedCap is now the majority owner of one company, National Security Partners, and the sole owner of a second, Project Performance Co.

In keeping with Knop’s history as a dealmaker, both companies are active in the M&A space.

National Security Partners closed two deals in 2012, including one at the end of the year for LMN Solutions. That deal was completed Dec. 5, for an undisclosed amount. FedCap is the majority owner, with the private equity firm Waud Capital Partners holding a minority stake.

With Project Performance Corp., Knop and FedCap Partners turned its minority stake in Global Analytic Information Technology Solutions, better known as GAITS, into 100 percent owners in July. On Dec. 15, they acquired Project Performance, or PPC, and adopted the PPC name.

Harry Thornsvard, who was the CEO of GAITS, continues as the CEO of PPC.

With the two companies, Knop and Belluchie are pursuing two market segments that are expected to continue to perform well, even in a tough budget environment.

National Security Partners, which goes by NSP, is the combination of three companies – PointOne, Summit Solutions and now LMN. The companies are focused on working with national security agencies providing cyber, engineering, analytics, and consulting services such as strategic planning.

The company has about $75 million in annual revenue. “The work we are doing is highly classified,” Knop said. Customers include intelligence agencies, the Defense Department, and the Homeland Security Department.

Knop and Belluchie brought in Maureen Bagniski, a former colleague of Belluchie’s from Serco and SI, to lead NSP as CEO. She also worked at the National Security Agency for 24 years, and at the FBI for three years. At NSA, she was a director of signals intelligence. At the FBI, she was executive assistant director for intelligence.

“She’s somewhat legendary in the intelligence world,” Knop said.

At PPC, the focus is on solutions that can save clients’ money – something that should be popular these days. Capabilities include IT architecture, cybersecurity, energy assessment and sustainability solutions, enterprise and systems development and knowledge and information management.

Customers include the Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce Department, Energy Department, EPA, the General Services Administration and Interior Department. It also counts several Fortune 100 companies as customers. PPC has about $60 million in annual revenue.

The capabilities of NSP and PPC are in areas that should see growth in the market. For NSP, there are the ongoing national security threats, and for PPC, there is the growing need for agencies to do more with less.

“Both companies are well positioned in distinct areas,” Belluchie said.

Acquisitions will be an ongoing part of both companies’ strategies, and Knop and Belluchie will be very active.

Knop said he sees their role not just as investors, but also as collaborators, helping to get senior leaders in place, working on teaming and strategic planning. “It’s very hands on,” he said.

“We both care about what the companies do for the government,” Knop said. “It’s important work so we want to do the best work we can.”

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 04, 2013 at 9:48 AM

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