AKKA finalizes the acquisition of PDS Tech in the United States

Communiqués de presse — 15, novembre 2018

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Brussels, November 15, 2018

On June 2018, AKKA announced that it had started exclusive and firm negotiations with the shareholders of PDS Tech in view of its acquisition. Following the approval by US authorities, AKKA has finalized the acquisition of PDS Tech Inc.

This acquisition is part of the CLEAR 2022 strategic plan and aims to create a leading engineering and technology services consultancy in the US.
To support the strong demand from North American clients of PDS Tech and to take advantage of synergies with AKKA’s existing customers, AKKA has been actively structuring its North America Business Unit for continued success. Consequently,
AKKA has appointed Cash Nickerson as Chairman of the Business Unit and has assembled a highly experienced advisory board, combining both technical expertise and firstrate business connections to accelerate AKKA’s development in North America.
As a long-time shareholder of PDS Tech, Cash Nickerson has served as the company’s President and Chief Financial Officer for fifteen years. He has worked in a variety of high-tech industries for over 30 years and will bring his extensive knowledge of the North American aerospace market and his network of top tier clients to the AKKA Group. Cash Nickerson will also join AKKA’s Group Executive Committee. Benjamin Ricci, who recently set up the AKKADEMY, AKKA’s in-house training and innovation hub, will work alongside him. The operational management will be led by one of AKKA’s long-time managers from the Aerospace
Sector.

‘’ Today AKKA enters the United States with the ambition of becoming a leader in the US R&D market, capable of supporting the world's leading industry players, who are looking for external support. This operation will create value for US industry and contribute towards achieving our growth and operational performance targets as set out in our strategy CLEAR 2022. I am delighted that Cash Nickerson is joining us in this endeavour. We have brought together a distinguished and accomplished group of individuals to join our advisory board, and they will play a key role in the successful roll-out of our ambitions in the United States. ‘’

Maurice Ricci

Chief Executive Officer of AKKA

CREATION OF A LEADER IN THE UNITED STATES

The US market for R&D consulting and engineering is valued at $295 billion* and is expected to double over the next several years. An important development and market signal among large industrial players today is the increasing concentration of outsourced engineering services in their supply chains.
With the acquisition of PDS Tech, AKKA is ideally positioned to benefit from the strong growth in the United States for outsourced R&D services. AKKA aims to be at the forefront of this trend and support its global clients operating in North America.

PDS Tech brings to AKKA significant complementary benefits:

  • AKKA is positioned as one of the leading suppliers to the US aerospace industry (fivetime winner of Boeing’s Performance Excellence Awards for the quality of its engineering services and nominated by Gulfstream as Best Supplier of the Year);
  • Revenue of $300M is expected for the fiscal year 2018, organic growth of more than
    15%;
  • AKKA can rely on a unique recruiting capacity close to the main innovation hubs and major US manufacturers:
    ✓ Ability to recruit 10,000 engineers per year;
    ✓ A database of 1.2 million CVs.

*Source : Zinnov

‘’ I look forward to this new challenge and to develop the AKKA North America business. With 8% growth to nearly $300 billion in 2017, the US outsourced R&D market is three times larger than that of France and Germany combined. The combination of PDS Tech and AKKA provide a powerful driver to accompany leading US companies towards integrated solutions. ‘’

Cash Nickerson

Chairman of AKKA North America’s Business Unit

A WELL-MANAGED INTEGRATION

The new management team will leverage its proven expertise of the North American market and AKKA’s engineering know-how to build a Business Unit with solid foundations to capitalize on this outsized growth opportunity.
AKKA North America will continue to operate with the PDS Tech brand, teams, and business model for staffing activities, while benefiting from numerous synergies with the AKKA Group.
PDS Tech will accelerate its established business in the US for both AKKA’s as well as its own long-standing clients. In parallel, AKKA will deploy its structured offerings in the North American market to support the evolution in demand of major clients towards technology and innovation consulting services.
PDS Tech and AKKA have already benefitted from initial commercial synergies:

  •  Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (MITAC): as a long-time customer of AKKA and of PDS Tech since 2014, the combined offerings will strengthen cooperation with MITAC.
  • Boeing: PDS Tech’s main customer in the United States, welcomes of the move between PDS Tech by AKKA. Thanks to the new set-up, the Group will make every effort to provide solutions for close to 1,500 open positions at Boeing.
  • Fincantieri: to whom PDS Tech is the main supplier in the US, is rapidly growing in the United States and Europe, and has an active policy of outsourcing its R&D activity. The combination of PDS Tech’s positioning in the United States and AKKA’s positioning in
    Europe opens up a strong partnership opportunity with this key client.

A VENTURE CREATING SUBSTANTIAL VALUE

PDS Tech is well-positioned to quickly capture growth in the industry. PDS Tech’s revenue is expected to grow by 15% to $300M in 2018, compared to $260M in 2017, with a 2018 operating margin up by 100 basis points.
In parallel, AKKA has identified margin improvement drivers that will enable the North America Business Unit to reach an operating margin of 7% by 2020:

  • Strong commercial synergies and recruitment acceleration have the potential to improve the margin by 150 to 200 basis points;
  • Decreasing overhead costs a further 100 to 150 basis points;
  • Optimized facility management another 50 to 100 basis points.

AKKA’s North American activities will also benefit from the ramp-up of the Group’s engineering offerings to achieve 10% profitability by 2022, in line with the Group’s objectives.
In summary, given the expectation of margin growth and an acquisition price of less than $100M negotiated on 2017 performance, the Group confirms that this transaction will be accretive in the first year.