SI International Inc. announced plans yesterday to purchase for $30 million in cash a Columbia company that specializes in technology work for defense intelligence agencies.
Ray J. Oleson, SI International's chairman and chief executive, said the acquisition of privately held Bridge Technology Corp. should allow his technology services company to branch into the intelligence sector through the expertise of Bridge's 140 employees, 90 percent of whom hold security clearances. Bridge will keep its name, its office and its workforce.
"We don't a have a lot of work in the intelligence field, and that's a very difficult area to bootstrap yourself into," said Oleson, who founded Reston-based SI International in 1998. "Our intent with Bridge is to retain all the people and make it a brand new area of business for us."
SI International designs, deploys, and operates information technology systems for the federal government, mostly defense-related agencies. This year, it won an $800 million contract from the Air Force Space Command for a system that helps the military communicate via satellites with forces around the world. For years, it has processed permanent visa applications for the State Department. And at this year's Olympics in Greece, it helped the U.S. government install systems to detect radioactive material at ports.
SI International will pay for Bridge with cash on hand and borrowings from its credit facility if the deal is completed as expected within the next 30 days, both companies said in a statement. The purchase awaits approval by SI's board of directors.
Informal talks between the companies were initiated nearly a year ago, but negotiations grew serious in the past two months, said Ron Dabbieri, a retired Army colonel who co-founded Bridge with business partner Lou Gould in May 2000.
Dabbieri will run Bridge as a wholly owned subsidiary of SI International while Gould will play a "diminished role," Dabbieri said.
On Tuesday night, Oleson and his management team held a meeting with Bridge employees and assured them that their jobs were safe, officials from both companies said. "The workforce is pumped," Dabbieri said. "We expect to operate in the same manner as before."
For the 12 months ended Sept. 30, Bridge generated $22.2 million in revenue, the company said in a statement. SI International said Bridge is profitable.
SI International posted $2.9 million in profit and $72.9 million in revenue in the third quarter. The company's stock closed yesterday at $29.80 a share, up 86 cents.