More than 215 acquisitions worldwide since 2003
Atalian is a good example of how some French service groups, such as the heavyweight Sodexo or catering specialist Elior, are growing at a brisk pace despite the weak economic growth of the Hexagon. In France, operators are confronted with customers who constantly impose price reductions, and sluggish demand. The security market has even retreated in recent months, after the peak provoked the attacks of November 13, 2015, when all the companies had urgently requested guards on their doorsteps.
This stagnation is offset by the acquisitions that Aalian is constantly making around the world. More than 215 since 2003! The latest one is Aetna, an old family business founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1936, which has gradually spread to neighboring states. It now employs 1,100 people. They clean offices and factories in the area, maintain buildings, and so on. Annual revenue, $ 32 million, or 29 million euros.
Atalian had already set foot across the Atlantic in January 2016, buying Temco, a New York company with more than 10,000 employees worldwide. A base considered solid for building a small American empire. “To really count in the United States, we have to bring our turnover from $ 200 million to 600 million or even 1 billion, Mr. Julien judge. It is therefore in this area that we will focus our acquisitions. After Temco and Aetna, three other operations are already in progress in Boston, Washington, and Florida. Each should bring 50 to 100 million dollars of activity. “
In France, Atalian plays consolidators
Failing to really compete with ISS, the imposing American and global leader, which alone employs nearly 500,000 people, Atalian hopes to become quickly visible in the United States. Other purchases are also expected in the coming months in Singapore and Indonesia, to reach again the size considered critical.
In France too, Atalian plays the consolidators. The group has just reached an agreement to resume the activities of its former Dutch partner Facilicom, which was unable to make any money. The file is currently submitted to the Autorité de la concurrence. The transaction is expected to bring A $ 70 million in sales to Atalian, consolidating its second position on the French market behind Onet.
So many transactions intended to give a new status to the group. Founded in 1944 under the French Technical Association of Cleaning (TFN), the Julien family company has long flourished in France by taking over tasks that businesses no longer wanted to do themselves: cleaning offices, then monitoring factories, maintenance of green spaces, etc. Now, it’s about turning this tricolor house into a world champion. This implies that it grows and becomes international at the same time.
No way to go public
This is the promise made to investors in May when the group raised 625 million euros in bonds, taking advantage of the euphoria aroused in the financial markets by the victory of Emmanuel Macron. “This money must finance our acquisitions for the next three years, with the ambition to bring the turnover from 2 billion to 3 billion euros,” says Julien. That’s 50% growth in three years! France, which still accounts for 60% of the activity, should see its share reduced shortly to less than half.
No question on the other hand to go on the stock market. “We do not need it because we have no major acquisition in sight,” says Mr. Julien, who owns 100% of the capital and intends to remain master of his home, like his father and grandfather .