Checkpoint Washington
Posted at 09:26 AM ET, 12/12/2011

Ex-Blackwater firm gets a name change, again

Contractors for what was then known as Blackwater engage in a firefight in Najaf, Iraq, in 2004. (Gervasio Sanchez — Associated Press)
The private security contractor known as Blackwater renamed itself Xe Services nearly three years ago. Now, the firm is rebranding itself again.

On Monday, Xe announced that it was changing its name to Academi, part of a years-long effort by the company to shed a troubled legacy that critics said made the firm a symbol for mercenaries and impunity in Iraq and elsewhere.

In an interview, the company’s president and chief executive, Ted Wright, said the announcement was about more than a simple name change.

“We want to reflect the changes we made in the company,” he said, noting that the firm has new ownership, new leadership and a “refocused strategy on training and security services.”

The company also has unveiled a new Web site and logo. The tag on the Web site reads: “Elite Training. Trusted Protection.”

Xe was acquired by USTC Holdings, an investor consortium, in December 2010, and since then has tried to undergo a corporate makeover. Erik Prince, the former Navy SEAL who built the company, no longer has ties to the business. The firm formed a new board of directors to manage the company and picked up big Washington names in the process.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft now serves as ethics adviser, and Jack Quinn, a top lobbyist and former counsel to President Bill Clinton, is an independent director.

The company also has a new corporate headquarters, in Arlington, Va. Its main training facility is still in Moyock, N.C.

When Blackwater began calling itself Xe in 2009, a spokesman for the firm said the name had no particular significance. On Monday, Wright said the name change this time had a more deliberate meaning.

Academi, pronounced “academy,” was chosen, he said, in part to evoke the ideas of a Platonic academy, where the ethos is of excellence, honor and discipline.

“That’s what we want our ethos to be in the future — trained thinkers and warriors,” he said

By  |  09:26 AM ET, 12/12/2011

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