Yearly Archives: 2004

Bantek Expands ATM and Desktop Service Capabilities through Merger with The Wilson Group

Bantek West Inc., a leading national provider of integrated services for automated teller machines and other banking equipment, today announced its merger with The Wilson Group, Farmington Hills, Mich., the Midwest’s leading independent ATM, desktop workstation and OEM maintenance company.

Wilson will operate as a separate wholly-owned subsidiary of Bantek, and all of its management personnel will remain in place.

The merger with Wilson strengthens and expands Bantek’s ATM nationwide second-line maintenance and Client/Server service solutions. Wilson has a 20-year track record of success in those service categories. Wilson also offers broad expertise in ATM installation, de-installation, and software and hardware upgrades. Wilson’s customer base in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois will gain access to Bantek’s national footprint and greater financial resources.

“The combination of Bantek and Wilson positions us to be the leading independent national provider of single source service solutions for ATMs, desktop workstations and printers and other bank branch equipment,” said Fred Wich, Vice Chairman of Bantek. “As banks continue to consolidate, they are looking for national service companies who can provide one stop shopping solutions for all of their ATM and other equipment service and project needs.”

Wich also noted that as an independent service provider, Bantek’s interests are aligned with those of its customers — e.g., reducing aggregate life cycle acquisition and service costs for their ATM and other equipment — in contrast to equipment manufacturers whose primary motivation is to sell their own equipment and solutions.

As a single source service solution provider, Bantek can provide its customers with higher equipment uptime and availability at lower costs.

“Bantek and Wilson are a perfect fit,” added Kim Rhodaback, partner of Wilson. “Both companies believe in the single-source solution concept, and Bantek’s national footprint and greater financial resources will enable us to offer an even more complete service package to our current customer base.” The companies’ combined capabilities in the Microsoft Windows Ô and LAN/WAN market separate Bantek and Wilson from other ATM service providers, an increasingly important consideration as ATMs evolve to a Windows-based operating environment and banks begin separating their ATM software purchasing decisions from their hardware purchasing decisions.

The two privately held firms did not disclose terms of the merger, which is effective immediately.

Bantek was founded in 1986 and has grown under its current management from a regional company serving five western states into a national provider of cash transportation, ATM and other equipment services. It currently has 52 branch offices located coast to coast.

The Wilson Group traces its history back to 1965 as a provider of office equipment maintenance services. For the past 20 years, Wilson has specialized in providing single-source ATM and desktop workstation services and high end installation, de-installation and upgrade solutions to financial institutions and other customers in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

As a result of the merger with The Wilson Group, Bantek now services more than 15,000 ATMs nationwide, including second-line services for approximately 4,000 ATMs of all manufacturers, including Diebold, NCR, Wincor Nixdorf, Triton, Tidel and Tranax. The company also services more than 65,000 desktop workstations and printers and more than 1,500 servers manufactured by Hewlett Packard, Dell, IBM, Cisco and others; more than 500 teller cash dispensers manufactured by Diebold and DeLa Rue; and several thousand pieces of coin and currency and other equipment located in bank branches.

Bantek’s 1,400-person workforce includes more than 500 technicians. In combination with The Wilson Group, Bantek will operate 55 branches and a fleet of more than 250 armored vehicles providing end-to-end vault and cash delivery services for ATMs and bank branches.

About Bantek 

Founded in 1986, Bantek is a leading national provider of cash-management and maintenance services for automated teller machines and bank-system desktop computers. The company strives to be the best national, integrated, single-source solution for banks and other deployers of ATMs. Its cash-handling services include ATM restocking and deposit pickup, as well as full armored-vehicle services. Its maintenance services include ATM hardware and software repair, installation and upgrades, as well as maintenance of vaults, pneumatic tubes, alarm systems and other banking equipment.

For more information, please contact Fred Wich at 312-649-1677 or Kim Rhodaback at 248-478-7700.

AMF Signs Agreement to Sell Its Bowling Centers in Australia

AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc. (“AMF”) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its 45 operating bowling centers in Australia to Macquarie Leisure Operations Limited (“MLE”) for approximately US$49.3 million, subject to certain adjustments to be made at closing. The sale will also include the real estate associated with one closed bowling center. The transaction is expected to close by the end of November, 2004, subject to certain closing conditions. Following consummation of the sale, AMF will have exited all bowling center operations in Australia.

“The decision to sell our Australian centers is consistent with the sale of our U.K. centers that we announced a few weeks ago,” said Fred Hipp, AMF Bowling Worldwide’s President and CEO. “Strategically, we want to bring as much focus as possible to the management of our core U.S. center and bowling products businesses.”

AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc. was advised on the transaction by J.P. Morgan.

AMF Bowling Worldwide Inc. remains the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers and is also a leader in the manufacturing and marketing of bowling and billiards products. Additional information about AMF is available on the Internet at www.amf.com or www.amfcenters.com.

Edgewater Funds Closes Sale of Westar

The Edgewater Funds, a Chicago based private equity group with approximately $540 million under management, today closed the exit of its investment in Westar Aerospace and Defense Group, Inc. Westar, a leading provider of technology solutions to the Department of Defense, other government agencies, and aerospace customers, was acquired for approximately $130 million by QinetiQ Ltd., a British science and technology development company controlled by the Carlyle Group.

Westar provides systems engineering, software, and logistics services to the aerospace industry, primarily the US department of defense. In addition, Westar manufactures aerospace filtration systems and flat panel display capital equipment. The company reached trailing twelve month revenue of approximately $125 million at June 30, 2004.

Under terms of the agreement, Westar will become a wholly owned subsidiary of QinetiQ North America, QinetiQ’s U.S. operating company, and will remain an autonomous member of the QinetiQ Group, retaining Westar’s core management team, employees, and U.S. facilities. Westar’s management will continue to report to a separate, independent board of directors.

“We’re very proud of our role in fostering Westar’s growth and success,” noted Edgewater Partner Greg Jones. “With assistance from Edgewater, Westar President and COO Rob Topping and his management team were able to build a large amount of value in a relatively short period of time.”

“This transaction will allow shareholders to realize an excellent return on their investment while positioning Westar for continued growth. QinetiQ is buying an outstanding company and will provide Westar with additional resources to move forward. This combination will bring helpful new capabilities to the U.S. Military. This is a great new chapter in the company’s history,” added Jones.

“Our investment in Westar exemplifies Edgewater’s strategy of partnering with strong management teams to create growth and value,” commented Jeff Frient, a Principal at Edgewater. “The Westar team, working with Edgewater, has grown the company’s revenue and profitability significantly and established Westar as a leader in the defense engineering services sector.”

Edgewater made its original investment in Westar in December, 2003.

About Westar 

Headquartered in St. Louis with offices in Washington, D.C. and Huntsville, Ala., Westar Aerospace & Defense Group, Inc. and its operating subsidiaries (Aerospace Filtration Systems, Inc., which produces products that extend the lives of turbine engines; and Westar Display Technologies, Inc., a supplier of image quality measurement and display performance improvement products), currently have approximately 900 employees and approximately $125 million in annual revenue. Founded in 1986, Westar has substantial expertise and a proven track record, offering synergistic, broad-based modeling and simulation, systems engineering, IT, and programmatic and logistics solutions. Visit http://www.westar.com for further information.

About QinetiQ 

QinetiQ is Europe’s largest science and technology solutions company, employing more than 9,000, including many of the UK’s leading scientists and internationally acclaimed experts. Founded from the laboratories of the UK Ministry of Defense, QinetiQ operates in markets as diverse as information technology, telecommunications, electronics, marine, energy, automotive, rail, defense, space, health, oil & gas, and aerospace. QinetiQ’s extensive facilities include indoor and outdoor ranges, wind tunnels, marine testing facilities, automotive test tracks, and climatic testing laboratories. The company is 31% owned by Washington, DC based Carlyle Group and 56% by the UK government. Visit http://www.QinetiQ.com for further information.

Rob Topping, president and chief operating officer of Westar Corp., is fortifying the defense contractor’s St. Charles County operations.

He is expanding the company’s newly designated headquarters, consolidating top management here, acquiring two other companies and projecting 2004 revenue will double last year’s total.

During the past few months, Topping has officially relocated the company’s headquarters from Albuquerque, N.M., to Westar’s offices in Missouri Research Park. Three senior managers, including Frederick Meek, director of human resources, are relocating from New Mexico.

In addition, Joe Pruett was just hired from WebMD in Florida for the newly created vice president of finance position. Topping also hired Vanessa Chandler, a lawyer with Bryan Cave’s Washington, D.C., office, as Westar’s general counsel and vice president. She also is relocating to St. Charles.

Although the company has maintained key offices in St. Charles County for more than 13 years, the headquarters relocation will set up greater synergy by combining the staff and leadership team in one place, Topping said.

In addition, Westar is hiring 20 employees for its human resources, accounting, finance and contracts departments.

“Compared to Albuquerque, this region has much richer talent pools,” Topping said. “There is such an emphasis on higher education. We have been conducting about eight interviews a day for the past three weeks.”

Topping expects to break ground within the next 30 days on a $2 million, 20,000-square-foot expansion to Westar’s current 40,000-square-foot office. A contractor has not been selected yet, but architects Mark Duitsman and Jack Holleran, who designed the original building, will oversee the expansion.

The company’s current space is a far cry from the 1,200-square-foot Bridgeton office where Westar began in the mid-1980s. “The HVAC didn’t work well, so in the summer we had to work in T-shirts, and in winter we had to work in coats,” Topping said.

The building addition is just one indication of Westar’s rapid growth. Topping and his management team have led three acquisitions since 2000 and are closing in on two more this quarter.

One of the companies, which develops aerospace modeling software, signed a letter of intent in mid-April to be acquired by Westar. Topping said he expects to close the deal this summer.

Acquisition talks are under way with the second company, which develops unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. Confidentiality agreements prohibit Topping from sharing names and details, but he said each acquisition would cost about $10 million.

Not including the planned acquisitions, Topping projects Westar’s revenue will nearly double to $140 million this year, compared to $77 million in 2003. The company experienced organic growth of 38 percent in 2003 over 2002, and saw its growth through acquisitions increase 78 percent during the same period, Topping said. Revenue for this year’s first quarter was 114 percent higher than the same period in 2003, he said.

Westar’s 2003 revenue has increased 353 percent compared to the $17 million the company made in 1999. “If you’re good, you’re growing fast,” Topping said. “Growth is a sign of success in your market.”

All of these developments are part of Topping’s larger plan to consolidate fragmented elements of the aerospace and defense industry and grow the company to $250 million in revenue by the end of 2005.

Westar is privately held, but Doug Childress, chief financial officer, told the Business Journal in December that executives are considering taking the company public by 2005.

Westar will pay for the upcoming acquisitions with part of the $38 million in equity and debt financing it secured Dec. 11 from the Edgewater Funds with participation by Mesirow Financial’s Private Equity Division, both based in Chicago. Edgewater committed the majority of the equity. Enterprise Bank of St. Louis provided the balance in a term loan and working capital facility.

Westar provides services to the Department of Defense and defense industry customers such as The Boeing Co. and Bell Helicopter. More than 90 percent of the company’s business is with the U.S. military. The company specializes in simulation and modeling, information technology, systems engineering, acquisition program support, and logistics services. It also manufactures engine filtration systems for Army helicopters and sells commercial flat-panel displays.

The company’s aerospace and defense group is focused on engineering systems that coordinate weaponry in “inner-air” battle space where helicopters, UAVs and missiles are used to achieve a military objective, according to the company’s vision statement.

“Training simulation and support is an area the Department of Defense has been focused on in terms of increasing readiness of our armed forces,” said Peter Arment, an aerospace analyst with Newport, R.I.-based JSA Research Inc. “Post 9-11, we’ve seen a step up of readiness training and the contract awards that have been handed out associated with that.”

In December, Westar acquired Huntsville, Ala.-based ELMCO Inc., which designs battlefield and missile-defense simulation programs for the Army. In 2002, Westar bought Brunswick, Maine-based Great Pond Technologies Inc., a business that creates mathematical models that describe the way helicopters operate in various environments. In 2000, Westar acquired Daleville, Ala.-based Cobro Corp., the Army’s contractor for helicopter logistics.

Founded in 1986, Westar employs about 120 people in St. Charles and another 680 in 26 locations around the world.

Westar Expands HQ, Ramps Up Revenue, Eyes Acquisitions

Rob Topping, president and chief operating officer of Westar Corp., is fortifying the defense contractor’s St. Charles County operations.

He is expanding the company’s newly designated headquarters, consolidating top management here, acquiring two other companies and projecting 2004 revenue will double last year’s total.

During the past few months, Topping has officially relocated the company’s headquarters from Albuquerque, N.M., to Westar’s offices in Missouri Research Park. Three senior managers, including Frederick Meek, director of human resources, are relocating from New Mexico.

In addition, Joe Pruett was just hired from WebMD in Florida for the newly created vice president of finance position. Topping also hired Vanessa Chandler, a lawyer with Bryan Cave’s Washington, D.C., office, as Westar’s general counsel and vice president. She also is relocating to St. Charles.

Although the company has maintained key offices in St. Charles County for more than 13 years, the headquarters relocation will set up greater synergy by combining the staff and leadership team in one place, Topping said.

In addition, Westar is hiring 20 employees for its human resources, accounting, finance and contracts departments.

“Compared to Albuquerque, this region has much richer talent pools,” Topping said. “There is such an emphasis on higher education. We have been conducting about eight interviews a day for the past three weeks.”

Topping expects to break ground within the next 30 days on a $2 million, 20,000-square-foot expansion to Westar’s current 40,000-square-foot office. A contractor has not been selected yet, but architects Mark Duitsman and Jack Holleran, who designed the original building, will oversee the expansion.

The company’s current space is a far cry from the 1,200-square-foot Bridgeton office where Westar began in the mid-1980s. “The HVAC didn’t work well, so in the summer we had to work in T-shirts, and in winter we had to work in coats,” Topping said.

The building addition is just one indication of Westar’s rapid growth. Topping and his management team have led three acquisitions since 2000 and are closing in on two more this quarter.

One of the companies, which develops aerospace modeling software, signed a letter of intent in mid-April to be acquired by Westar. Topping said he expects to close the deal this summer.

Acquisition talks are under way with the second company, which develops unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. Confidentiality agreements prohibit Topping from sharing names and details, but he said each acquisition would cost about $10 million.

Not including the planned acquisitions, Topping projects Westar’s revenue will nearly double to $140 million this year, compared to $77 million in 2003. The company experienced organic growth of 38 percent in 2003 over 2002, and saw its growth through acquisitions increase 78 percent during the same period, Topping said. Revenue for this year’s first quarter was 114 percent higher than the same period in 2003, he said.

Westar’s 2003 revenue has increased 353 percent compared to the $17 million the company made in 1999. “If you’re good, you’re growing fast,” Topping said. “Growth is a sign of success in your market.”

All of these developments are part of Topping’s larger plan to consolidate fragmented elements of the aerospace and defense industry and grow the company to $250 million in revenue by the end of 2005.

Westar is privately held, but Doug Childress, chief financial officer, told the Business Journal in December that executives are considering taking the company public by 2005.

Westar will pay for the upcoming acquisitions with part of the $38 million in equity and debt financing it secured Dec. 11 from the Edgewater Funds with participation by Mesirow Financial’s Private Equity Division, both based in Chicago. Edgewater committed the majority of the equity. Enterprise Bank of St. Louis provided the balance in a term loan and working capital facility.

Westar provides services to the Department of Defense and defense industry customers such as The Boeing Co. and Bell Helicopter. More than 90 percent of the company’s business is with the U.S. military. The company specializes in simulation and modeling, information technology, systems engineering, acquisition program support, and logistics services. It also manufactures engine filtration systems for Army helicopters and sells commercial flat-panel displays.

The company’s aerospace and defense group is focused on engineering systems that coordinate weaponry in “inner-air” battle space where helicopters, UAVs and missiles are used to achieve a military objective, according to the company’s vision statement.

“Training simulation and support is an area the Department of Defense has been focused on in terms of increasing readiness of our armed forces,” said Peter Arment, an aerospace analyst with Newport, R.I.-based JSA Research Inc. “Post 9-11, we’ve seen a step up of readiness training and the contract awards that have been handed out associated with that.”

In December, Westar acquired Huntsville, Ala.-based ELMCO Inc., which designs battlefield and missile-defense simulation programs for the Army. In 2002, Westar bought Brunswick, Maine-based Great Pond Technologies Inc., a business that creates mathematical models that describe the way helicopters operate in various environments. In 2000, Westar acquired Daleville, Ala.-based Cobro Corp., the Army’s contractor for helicopter logistics.

Founded in 1986, Westar employs about 120 people in St. Charles and another 680 in 26 locations around the world.

AMF Bowling Completes Merger

Fred Hipp, Former Chief Executive of California Pizza Kitchen, Will Lead AMF 

AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc., announced today that the company has been acquired through a merger transaction with equity funding provided by Code Hennessy & Simmons, The Edgewater Funds, Merrill Lynch and other institutional investors.

Fred Hipp has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc. He joins AMF with thirty years in the hospitality industry, most recently as President and CEO of California Pizza Kitchen.

“AMF is a company with enormous potential that has been hindered by its financial structure over the past several years,” said Hipp. “We now have the resources and long-term commitment to begin investing in people and the strategies that will positively affect our customers’ perception of the AMF bowling experience.”

The merger transaction is valued at approximately $670 million, of which $250 million will be financed through the sale of certain real estate assets under a sale-leaseback facility. Debt financing consists of $135 million in term loans under a new senior secured credit facility, as well as a recently completed offering of $150 million in senior subordinated notes. Finally, a $135 million equity investment was made by the investor group.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, AMF shareholders will receive $25.00 in cash for each common share.

AMF Bowling Worldwide Inc. is the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers and is also a leader in the manufacturing and marketing of bowling and billiards products. Additional information about AMF is available on the Internet at www.amf.com.