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Jim Bernhard speaks to the LPUA regarding the sale of Lafayette Utilities Systems on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at City Hall in Lafayette.

Lafayette-based environmental engineering firm ATC Group Services is merging with Atlas Technical Consultants, out of Austin, Texas. 

Both are portfolio companies of Baton Rouge-based Bernhard Capital Partners, the private equity firm run by former Shaw Group chief Jim Bernhard. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

The two companies have a combined national footprint in more than 40 states, with 140 offices and 3,200 employees, the companies said in a news release. The combined firm will retain the Atlas name and be led by current Atlas CEO L. Joe Boyer. 

"Atlas has quickly become a major industry leader in infrastructure engineering, construction services and materials inspection and testing, and the integration of ATC will only serve to add value to the company's strong foundation and exceptional performance," Bernhard Capital Partner Jeff Jenkins said. 

ATC Consultants was founded in 1982 and has more than 1,800 employees across nearly 100 locations. The company moved its headquarters from Denver to Lafayette in 2016 following its acquisition by Bernhard Capital Partners. ATC recently signed a lease on the 24,500-square-foot Summit Office building at 5750 Johnston St., a building previously occupied by Chevron USA. It moved there from its previous location at 221 Rue De Jean, Suite 300. ATC employs 60 at the Lafayette office.

Since 2016, ATC has expanded under CEO Bobby Toups through acquisitions of companies like Environmental Compliance Services, Dexter Field Services and Sage Environmental Consulting. 

Following the $3 billion sale of the Shaw Group in 2013, Bernhard and Jenkins launched Bernhard Capital Partners in an effort to cash in on what they saw as an energy renaissance in North America, and on the expertise of a network of former Shaw executives. The firm has quickly raised more than $2 billion, including from major Louisiana pension funds including the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. 

Bernhard Capital has deployed the capital by scooping up energy-related businesses in what they call a buy-and-build strategy. Another BCP portfolio company, NextGen Utility Systems, tried to get a 40-year deal to take over operations of the Lafayette Utilities System, but pulled out after local opposition. 

Atlas, founded in 2017, has itself grown through several acquisitions, and the merger with ATC will help strengthen the firm, Boyer said.

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Follow Sam Karlin on Twitter, @samkarlin.

Acadiana business editor Adam Daigle contributed to this story.