More than two years after the $1 billion sale of Arlington-based tech company Stanley, former chief executive Philip O. Nolan is jumping back into the market with a private equity-backed government services company.
Nolan has founded the Galeos Group with three other industry veterans and $300 million in equity capital from New York-based Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe.
The company is now positioned to acquire a business that can serve as a platform for a new enterprise. Nolan said he plans to stay away from firms focused on the much-buzzed-about growth areas of cybersecurity, health technology and cloud computing.
“If you go where everyone else is, you’re going to pay for that,” he said. “You can expect us to take a much broader approach.”
Galeos Group, based in McLean, brings together Nolan with James Brabston, who was chief operating officer at Stanley before its sale; Joseph M. Cormier, formerly chief financial officer of Sotera Defense Solutions; and Randy Brooks, who has worked for CGI Federal, Stanley and Oberon.
CGI bought Stanley in 2010 for more than $1 billion in an effort to build up its federal defense and intelligence work. Nolan, who had a noncompete agreement with CGI, had joined Stanley as its 23rd employee in the 1980s.
With company valuations dropping in recent months because of government spending uncertainty, Nolan said he saw opportunity.
He said Galeos will seek a company or companies with more than $100 million in revenue. An ideal candidate would have a strong customer base and a place on key federal contracting programs that positions it to win work, Nolan said.
Galeos executives are hoping that the more uncertain budget environment will help them find a reasonably priced purchase.
“Sellers are becoming more realistic about the challenges ahead of them in the market,” Cormier said. “While it hasn’t brought prices to the point where we would optimally like them, they’ve certainly come in from where they were.”
Nolan said the group plans to put together a cost-conscious company sized to handle the government’s focus on lower prices.
“We need to build out a company that is focused on that right from the very start,” Nolan said. “That is a potential advantage that we have.”
Private equity has played a far larger role in contracting in recent years — but some firms have become more wary in the face of declining government spending.
But Mitchell Martin, a principal with the investment firm McLean Group, said there are still multiple private-equity businesses actively pursuing new investments.
“Part of that is just there’s a lot more players now than there were even five years ago,” Martin said. “We’re still seeing a lot of activity, [but] they’re definitely being a lot more cautious, and ... due diligence is a lot more thorough than it has been in the past.”