Lawrence's largest private-sector employer is getting a new owner as part of a $600 million deal designed to speed the company's existing plans for growth.
Pearson Government Solutions, which has call-center and data-processing operations in the East Hills Business Park, is being sold to Veritas Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm.
Veritas announced Monday that it would pay $600 million for the company, which has more than 5,500 employees in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela. The Lawrence center has 1,600 of those employees, ranking it among the company's two largest operations.
The deal, which awaits regulatory approval, is expected to close Feb. 15.
Mark Andrews, Pearson's site manager and human resources manager in Lawrence, said the sale would not change any employee's benefits, job status or anything else - other than the possibility that more work might soon be on the way.
"It's the same thing today as it was yesterday: We just have to keep doing a better job," Andrews said, of the prospects for change in Lawrence. "We think it's great. It's a tremendous opportunity for our company."
Pearson Government Solutions last year posted revenues of $530 million, a number that grows with the securing of each additional government contract. The company has plans to reach $1 billion in annual sales within two years, spokesman Eileen Rivera said.
"Our new owners are 100 percent committed to our growth plans and our vision," she said. "Our employees have an even greater opportunity to participate in the growth of our company, including the employees in Lawrence."
Pearson's Lawrence operations opened in 1994 as National Computer Systems, with a handful of employees working out of a leased office in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America building near Wakarusa Drive and what was then 15th Street.
Today - six years after London-based Pearson Plc bought the company and two years after forming Pearson Government Solutions - the Lawrence operation spans two buildings containing 195,000 square feet at East Hills. Its jobs range from fielding millions of calls from Medicare beneficiaries to processing millions of applications regarding student loans to handling millions of inquiries about potential workplace discrimination.
With assistance from Veritas, the company will be able to focus on adding more commercial clients. Robert McKeon, president and founder of Veritas, said in a statement that such plans include expansion both geographically and "in vertical, high-potential markets, such as health care and business process outsourcing."
Pearson Government Solutions is a division of Pearson Plc, the London-based media company that owns the Financial Times Group and Penguin, the pervasive book publisher. Pearson will retain a 10 percent stake in Pearson Government Solutions, which will be getting a new name early next year.
How soon the East Hills center gets a new sign remains to be seen, but whatever it ends up being won't been unknown for long.
"There's going to be a real aggressive branding effort," said Andrews, the site manager.