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3 mins read

Saalex Corp Strengthens Defense Presence with $75 Million Acquisition

Saalex Corporation is a federal services contractor that provides engineering and information technology services for the Department of Defense, municipalities, and small to medium-sized businesses.

On January 24th, Saalex announced the acquisition of Spalding Consulting, for over $75 million. This strategic move positions Saalex as a major player in the lucrative defense sector, expanding its reach and expertise.

“At Saalex, we are continually exploring avenues for inorganic growth to complement our strong proposal capabilities. The acquisition of Spalding Consulting aligns seamlessly with our expansion objectives,” said Travis Mack, Chairman and CEO of Saalex. “

This acquisition follows Saalex’s 2022 purchase of Netsimco, an information technology services provider, for approximately $30 million. The transaction aimed to enhance Saalex’s IT capabilities in the Department of Defense and aerospace markets. Netsimco, with over 180 employees across four states and a consistent annual growth rate of 20 percent, played a crucial role in Saalex’s long-term growth strategy.

The Spalding Consulting acquisition brings several key benefits to Saalex:

Expanded Defense Footprint: Gaining access to Spalding’s established clientele and expertise strengthens Saalex’s presence in the defense industry, unlocking doors to new contracts and opportunities.

Talented Workforce Integration: With Spalding’s 430 skilled professionals joining Saalex’s ranks, the employee base surpasses 1,200 nationwide. This influx of talent enhances Saalex’s ability to deliver a broader range of services to its clients.

Enhanced Software Development Capabilities: Spalding’s expertise in software development complements Saalex’s strengths, enabling the combined entity to offer more comprehensive solutions to clients.

Projections suggest an annual revenue increase exceeding $175 million, solidifying Saalex’s position as a major player in the aerospace and defense market.

This acquisition signifies a significant step forward for both Saalex and Spalding Consulting. Saalex gains a valuable foothold in the defense sector while Spalding gains access to resources and opportunities that fuel continued growth.

The strategic synergy not only benefits the companies involved but also their clients, who can expect a wider range of innovative and comprehensive solutions to meet complex needs.

Looking ahead, Spalding will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Saalex, with the executive leadership remaining in place during the transition.

by Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Project Black: Ariel Investments Closes $1.45 Billion Fund For Minority-Owned Companies

Ariel Investments, one of the largest Black-owned asset management companies in the U.S., recently announced the closing of Project Black, LP, its first private equity initiative.

The fund seeks to invest in middle-market companies with revenue between $100 million and $1 billion, with a focus on transforming these companies into certified minority business enterprises of scale.

Project Black will leverage $1.45 billion in commitments from its limited partners and co-investors, who come from various sectors including consumer retail, energy and infrastructure, financial services, healthcare, sovereign and private wealth, and technology. In addition, JPMorgan Chase & Co. intends to co-invest up to $200 million alongside the Fund in future deals.

The Fund’s investment strategy is to pursue 6-10 middle-market platform companies, focusing predominantly on high-margin sectors that fulfill corporate procurement needs, including healthcare, industrial, media and marketing, outsourcing, manufacturing and packaging, technology, transportation and logistics, and financial and professional services.

“We chose to partner with large institutions that are seeking to drive widespread corporate vendor diversity,” said Leslie A. Brun, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Ariel Alternatives, in a news release.

Ariel Alternatives was also co-founded by Mellody Hobson, who is also chairman and co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments.

“Our goal is to help close the racial wealth gap by creating minority-owned businesses of scale through access to both capital and customers,” Mr. Brun said.

Post-acquisition, the Fund’s investment team is expected to partner with its companies to pursue both organic and non-organic growth strategies, with the aim of creating a new class of Black and brown entrepreneurs. The Fund also employs a formal environmental, social and governance (ESG) and social impact policy to ensure its portfolio companies have the potential to create career paths and economic growth for underrepresented minorities.

One example of the Fund’s successful investment portfolio is the acquisition of Sorenson, a leading U.S. communications provider for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing, at an enterprise value of $1.3 billion in April 2022. Prior to acquisition, just 3% of Sorenson’s senior leadership team and board of directors were comprised of minorities.

However, with Ariel’s control and active efforts to augment the organization with best-in-class leaders, minority representation has significantly increased to 43% of the senior leadership team and board.

The Fund’s goal is to help close the racial wealth gap by creating minority-owned businesses of scale through access to both capital and customers. Ariel Alternatives aims to forge partnerships between its network of the world’s largest corporations and its portfolio companies and to scale sustainable minority-owned businesses to serve as leading vendors to Fortune 500 companies.

Over the next decade, Project Black seeks to create 100,000 new jobs in underrepresented minority communities across up to 10 portfolio companies and to generate jobs and economic growth within these communities.

The McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility’s research and insights helped inform the Project Black strategy, which is also supported by a number of legal advisors including Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

Ariel Investments, LLC, the parent company of Ariel Alternatives, is a global value-based asset management firm founded four decades ago in 1983. With assets under management totaling approximately $16.2 billion as of December 31, 2022, Ariel serves individual and institutional investors through five distinct strategies, including Ariel Focus Fund, Ariel Discovery Fund, Ariel Fund, Ariel Appreciation Fund, and Ariel International Fund.

by Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

$126.5 Million SPAC Formed to Acquire Black Owned Firms

Shawn Rochester is the CEO of Minority Equality Opportunities Acquisition Inc. (“MEOA”) the first minority-led special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) listed on the Nasdaq.

The company will focus its search and transactions on historically undercapitalized minority-owned/controlled businesses in various industry sectors across the country.

In this episode, Shawn discusses:

  • Being the only SPAC working with a Black owned bank
  • MEOA exceding its initial $100M goal and and raising $126M
  • How his company plans to help Black businesses grow through aquisition
  • What MBE’s need to have in place in order to qualify as an ideal investment
  • The need for more Black capital providers and Black led investment firms
  • The cultural disconnect that prevents some non Black firms from investing in Black companies.
  • The importance of building a well capitalized business infrastructure in the Black community
  • The inspiration behind his book “The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America”

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Tony O. Lawson

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2 mins read

Jay-Z Involved in a $10Million Fund Created To Empower Black Owned Cannabis Businesses

Jay-Z is part of a fund created to invest in Black owned cannabis businesses in order to bolster Black participation in the industry.

The new fund was created as part of a purchase of two California-based cannabis companies by a third company. Jay-Z was a creative strategist at Caliva, one of the two companies acquired by Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp., which has renamed itself TPCO Holding Corp.

Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp., now known as The Parent Company, is now the largest cannabis operation in California, offering services including plant cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, brands, retail, and delivery. The company expects to earn revenues up to $334 million in 2021.

black owned cannabis businesses

Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, has been named Chief Visionary Officer of The Parent Company and leads brand strategy for The Parent Company Social Equity Ventures, a corporate venture fund investing in Black and minority-owned Cannabis Businesses.

The Parent Company Social Equity Ventures will invest $10 million (plus an annual contribution of at least 2% of its net income) in minority-owned and Black-owned cannabis businesses, while also aiming to rectify the wrongs of cannabis prohibition and the racially-biased war on drugs over the past four decades.

According to Jay-Z, “This is an incredible time for this industry. The end of cannabis prohibition is here, and The Parent Company will lead the charge to a more expansive and inclusive cannabis industry.

We are paving a path forward for a legacy rooted in dignity, justice, care, and consistency. The brands we build will redefine growth, social impact, and social equity. This is our time. I’m proud and excited to lead the vision of The Parent Company.”

Investors include Roc Nation and artists Rihanna, Meek Mill, Yo Gotti, and DJ Khaled.

Tony O. Lawson

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