Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor Vol. 24 No. 06
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Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor
Article 8 of 14
February 07, 2020

Amentum is New Name With Familiar Faces to DOE Crowd, Executive Says

By Wayne Barber

While Amentum is a new company, it is far from a new face doing business for government nuclear and environmental agencies, a senior executive said Tuesday.

The former AECOM Management Services division officially became Amentum on Jan. 31 with the closure of the $2.4 billion sale to affiliates of New York-based investment firms Lindsay Goldberg and American Securities LLC.

“We are not a small upstart,” Executive Vice President and General Manager for Nuclear and Environment Mark Whitney told Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor by telephone as Amentum started its second full business day as an independent company.

“We did start yesterday from a position of strength,” Whitney said. “We are a $4 billion company” and a major government contractor from day one.

Amentum is a Greek word for a leather strap used to propel a javelin straighter, farther, and faster.

The Germantown, Md.-based company has virtually the same 20,000-person workforce spread across 48 states and internationally as it did in October, when AECOM announced the sale. John Vollmer, who headed the government contracting branch at AECOM, stays on as the CEO of Amentum. Likewise, Whitney and others from the Management Services hierarchy migrated to the new company.

Whitney spent four years in management at AECOM after working in senior roles at the Energy Department Office of Environmental Management and the semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration from 2005 through 2015.

The new company considers nuclear cleanup and NNSA projects to be in its “sweet spot,” Whitney said. Amentum-led joint ventures together employ an additional 7,000 workers at locations including the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, the Hanford Site cleanup in Washington state, the Oak Ridge Site cleanup in Tennessee, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The company is also still a junior partner on Lawrence Livermore National Security, the University of California- and Bechtel-led team that has managed the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory since 2007.

Other Amentum customers include the Pentagon, and nuclear or military-related agencies in Canada, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

Companies involved in mergers and acquisitions in the United States must file disclosure documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission and sometimes other agencies such as the Justice Department.

Winning regulatory approval for the sale of the former AECOM branch in Europe was much like the experience in the United States, Whitney said. The agencies there want to ensure their contractors have the needed financial and human resources to carry out critical missions, he said.

The new company this week launched its website and reached out to government customers about the changeover.

“They want to know and ensure they have a strong base within the industry” to perform environmental and project management, Whitney said. Amentum includes acquired companies such as Morrison-Knudsen, Washington Group International and URS.

The new owners from Wall Street can also ensure hefty financial backing. “They have over $35 billion in assets under management” and are not a “boutique” firm, Whitney said.

Ownership is also focused on Amentum’s long-term growth and has not voiced any plans for spinning off the government contracting company after a few years, the said Whitney. There were no layoffs upon the exit from AECOM, and the company actually plans to do more hiring over time, Whitney said.

“The top-line message is from me and my management: This is business as usual … with some improvements as we move forward,” Whitney said.

The transition from a satellite to an independent company was “pretty painless,” according to Whitney. The Management Services unit was essentially a standalone organization within AECOM anyway, he said.  Key groups, from attorneys, engineers, employees, and managers moved to the new entity.

Amentum will also add its own central office bookkeeping functions that previously would have been run through AECOM at its Los Angeles headquarters.

Being a smaller, privately held company should help Amentum react to market demands quicker, Whitney said. Having to worry about things like the daily stock price and each quarter’s earnings can push public companies to focus on the short-term rather than long-term opportunities, he added.

Amentum’s status also gives clients a better opportunity for access to the CEO. Vollmer knows the government contracting business well, “and also personally knows many of our clients across the U.S. and internationally,” Whitney said.

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