The management consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton is acquiring Aquilent, a Laurel firm that has designed more than 100 websites for federal agencies, in a $250 million deal.
The acquisition, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by the end of December. It is expected to boost McLean, Va.-based Booz Allen's revenue by up to $35 million in fiscal 2017.
Under the deal, Aquilent, also known as eGov Holdings Inc., will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Booz Allen as the 102-year-old firm expands to offer more technology services.
"We've always worked with our clients on really hard problems to put the plan and strategy in place," said Greg Wenzel, an executive vice president for Booz Allen's digital business. "What we're moving into is implementing those strategies for our clients."
With revenue of $5.4 billion in its 2016 fiscal year, which ended in March, Booz Allen is well known for business management and consulting services among government agencies, Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations.
The company has made headlines recently for its connections to the National Security Agency, based at Fort Meade. It employed Edward Snowden, the computer technician who leaked thousands of pages of classified NSA documents, and Harold T. Martin III, who was charged in August with stealing classified documents and keeping them in his Glen Burnie home.
Booz Allen employs 22,800 people globally, including 3,740 at 11 locations in Maryland. Aquilent employs about 350 people at its office on the Prince George's County side of Laurel.
All of Aquilent's employees are expected to stay on and the staff will grow over time, Wenzel said.
"The intent is to use them to ignite and continue to grow," he said.
Aquilent, which brings valuable expertise and technology to Booz Allen's growing digital services business, will keep its name initially, but eventually transition into a hub within Booz Allen's Digital Solutions Network.
Heavyweights like Booz Allen making deals — especially such large ones — is a positive sign for Maryland businesses, said Rene LaVigne, chairman of the Tech Council of Maryland.
"I think it speaks volumes to the capacity in the region and the talent and the expertise we have in the market here," said LaVigne, who is also CEO of Iron Bow Technologies, an information technology firm in Chantilly, Va.
Aquilent started as the government services division of Commerce One, a California software company that thrived in the 1990s before crashing when the dot-com bubble burst. Senior management bought out the unit to create Aquilent in 2002.
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The company specializes in digital and cloud services for government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Postal Service and the General Services Administration. The firm has been growing quickly, an average of 28 percent a year over the past five years.
Aquilent CEO David G. Fout said that selling to Booz Allen offers an opportunity for the privately held Aquilent to expand into new areas.
"Joining a firm like Booz Allen, which aligns so closely with our expertise, offers the chance to expand into new areas of digital work, expands capabilities for our clients through the breadth of their relationships, and is a great opportunity for the people of Aquilent," Fout said in a statement. "We look forward to working together to support existing and future clients."
For Booz Allen, the deal is a way to bolster offerings that leaders think are central to the firm's future success.
Under a long-term growth strategy, called Vision 2020, Booz Allen has been recalibrating its business to adapt to growing technology needs among its clients, largely by acquiring smaller firms that specialize in engineering, cyber, analytics and digital services.
In 2015, Booz Allen acquired the software services unit of SPARC, a technology company in Charleston, S.C. The firm acquired Boston-based health analytics firm Epidemico in 2014.