Calian Group agrees to acquire Ottawa IT powerhouse Decisive Group for $74.7M

Decisive Group acquisition stock image

Just days after hiring a new leader for its rapidly growing IT and cybersecurity division, Calian Group is poised to acquire one of Ottawa’s largest IT infrastructure providers.

The Kanata firm announced Thursday it has agreed to purchase Decisive Group in a deal that could be worth up to $74.7 million. 

The transaction includes a $50-million cash payment upon closing. Calian expects the deal to be finalized by the end of December pending regulatory approvals.

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Founded in 2001, Decisive Technologies was launched as a professional services company and began offering data centre solutions in 2010. 

It expanded its offerings in 2013 with the creation of a new company, BriteSky Technologies, which originally focused on cloud storage. Two years ago, the firms amalgamated under the Decisive Group banner.

Along the way, Decisive has racked up a series of accolades. It was twice named to OBJ’s list of fastest-growing companies and has made three consecutive appearances on Ottawa’s Best Places to Work list since 2021.

“The Decisive team is excited to join Calian,” Decisive Group CEO Mitchell Carkner said in a statement. “Voted one of Ottawa’s Best Places to Work, we – like Calian – hold many of the same values. We are hyper-focused on modernizing and protecting our customers’ infrastructure and can’t wait to do that as part of the Calian team.”

The acquisition punctuates a busy week for Calian’s IT business unit, which announced on Monday that Invest Ottawa president and CEO Michael Tremblay would become its new president effective Dec. 1.

Decisive Group now employs more than 60 people, all of whom are expected to join Calian. Its customers include numerous federal government departments and agencies as well as privately owned companies across Canada.

Greg Beauchamp, vice-president of operations at Calian’s IT and cyber division, said the acquisition augments the firm’s expertise in areas such as the development of custom IT solutions and cybersecurity consulting.

“It accelerates us into the Canadian marketplace,” Beauchamp told Techopia on Thursday. “To build this business from scratch in Canada … is a long road, so this just puts us years ahead. This is going to allow us to really launch across Canada.”

Decisive Group’s assets include a domestically based operations centre with top-level federal security clearance, an offering Calian previously lacked. The firm also provides cybersecurity services to customers in a range of industries beyond health care, the sector Calian has focused on up to now.

“This brings a different suite of commercial customers to the base,” Beauchamp said. “I don’t see a lot of overlap.”

The deal is Calian’s 13th acquisition since the start of 2020 as it pushes toward its goal of reaching $1 billion in annual revenues. It follows the company’s recent purchases of two other firms that specialize in IT and cybersecurity services – Toronto-based Dapasoft in 2021 and Texas-headquartered Computex early last year.

Boosted by those deals, Calian more than doubled its IT and cyber revenues in fiscal 2022 compared with the previous year. The firm expects sales from the segment to surpass $200 million in fiscal 2023.

“I think we now truly feel that we have a rounded-out IT and cybersecurity portfolio that extends across both the United States and Canada,” Beauchamp said. “ITCS is a different beast than it was a few years ago, that’s for sure.”

Beauchamp, who was briefly Tremblay’s colleague at Digital Equipment Corp. in the early days of their careers, said Calian’s IT business will benefit from the longtime tech executive’s sales and marketing acumen.

“If I look at the experience Mike Tremblay brings to the table from an international point of view, I think he’ll be a huge contributor,” he said.

Calian shares were up $1.61, or about three per cent, to $51.18 in mid-afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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