The CEO of Cary-based Global Knowledge says the acquisition of Canada's largest corporate training firm is a strong addition even though the business had financial problems.
Last week Global Knowledge completed the previously announced acquisition of the assets of Nexient Learning, which has 220 employees and generated $55.2 million in revenue last year. Nexient's ambitious expansion was fueled by debt that led it to file for the Canadian equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the business has consistently generated positive cash flow from operations, said Global Knowledge CEO Brian Branson.
That's crucial because Global Knowledge acquired Nexient's assets, not its debts, said Branson.
"It was a rare opportunity, as I see it, for Global Knowledge to acquire the clear market leader in Canada in IT [information technology] and business skills and leadership training," Branson said.
In addition, he added, "if we didn't do it, someone else was going to." The price Global Knowledge paid for Nexient has not been disclosed.
Global Knowledge provides IT and business training at its own centers, at customers' sites and over the Internet. It operates in 16 nations and partners with leading technology companies such as Cisco, Microsoft and VMware to provide certified training in their products. Global Knowledge is owned by New York investment firm Welsh, Carson and Stowe and posted more than $275 million in revenue last year.
The Nexient acquisition gives Global Knowledge about 1,400 employees, including about 300 in Cary.
In the spring Global Knowledge reduced its work force by about 70 workers, a move aimed at positioning the company to prosper when the economy turned around. Branson said the company's second-quarter revenue was a little above its internal forecast, but declined to discuss details.
Asked about whether Global Knowledge will need to cut jobs in Canada, Branson replied: "We did not make this acquisition requiring that there be head-count changes."
That said, he didn't rule out the possibility of layoffs.
"We have got to go through the process of defining if and where overlapping functions may exist," he said. "Once we understand that, we will be able to make the appropriate decision regarding employees."
Branson said the acquisition also could trigger the addition of more jobs at its Cary headquarters.
"That's one of the things that we will be evaluating," he said. "There is the possibility of that because of the size of Nexient and what our combined Canadian operations will look like."
Overall, Nexient's business is complementary to Global Knowledge's and includes training in leadership that Global Knowledge doesn't offer, said Branson.
"We are going to look to leverage that," he said. "We're very excited about that particular component."