Skip navigation EPAM

Going Global – by Hugh R. Morley

The rapid rise of the global economy is reshaping the way New Jersey companies do business, creating new opportunities and challenges. This weekly column explores the growing ties between Garden State businesses and the rest of the world.

Globalization hits close to home as foreigners go on buyout spree

Talk about a global conspiracy theory.

Iselin-based Engelhard last week agreed to be bought by Germany's BASF.

A bank owned by the Canadian financial conglomerate TD Bank Financial Group is acquiring Saddle Brook's Interchange Bank, having just snapped up Mahwah's Hudson United Bank.

And in April, Lucent Technologies agreed to be purchased by French telecommunications part-maker Alcatel SA.

Is this the start of a wave of foreign companies cherry-picking New Jersey's finest?

Fear not, said several business professors. They said these are just close-to-home examples of the forces of globalization, coincidentally touching down in the Garden State.

"It's kind of simple," said Patrick Gaughan, a finance and economics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, whose books include "Mergers, Acquisitions and Corporate Restructurings."

"The world economy is picking up, expanding," he said. "And when the economy expands, companies look to buy other companies because that's much faster than growing by internal - or organic - growth. We are at the start of a period of intensive merger and acquisition activity."

Hector Lozada, director of the Institute of International Business at Seton Hall University, said the weak dollar adds to the trend, making U.S. companies cheaper to buy for foreign companies.

Gaughan added that the spate of acquisitions has been going on for a while, and is accelerating as globalization prompts executives to seek a global presence."Companies need to be more globalized than they used to be," he said.

But consider this, he added: U.S. private equity funds are also on a global spending spree.

Thomson Financial reports that the global total of mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter jumped to $880.8 billion, up 45 percent from the same period a year ago.

Russian native makes a name as N.J.-based IT consultant

He's Russian, based in New Jersey, and a global IT force to be reckoned with.

Consulting Magazine has named Arkadiy Dobkin, CEO and founder of EPAM of Lawrenceville, one of its Top 25 consultants. Others on the list were executives from such established names as IBM, McKinsey & Co., and Accenture.

Dobkin came to the U.S. from Moscow in 1992, at age 31, hoping to find American clients for his computer consulting firm.

The company went out of business soon after, but he founded EPAM in the U.S., and it has since flourished.

EPAM now has 1,700 employees, a European headquarters in Budapest, and software development centers in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

Jack Sweeney, editor in chief of Consulting Magazine, called Dobkin "one of the most aggressive consolidators of IT consulting talent within the Eastern European market."

"Dobkin is one of the few Russian consultants that has asserted himself into the world of global consulting - as much by his wits as by his firm's might," he said in an e-mail interview.

The release of the magazine's ranking coincided with a Russian IT conference in Moscow, at which EPAM executives said they expect to make acquisitions to expand, according to trade press reports.

Italians, Chinese playing big roles in Totowa firm's Mongolian deal

Totowa's Vibra Screw is heading for Mongolia, with a little help from the Italians and Chinese.

The 50-year-old company will supply feeder equipment to a conversion plant owned by Shenhua Coal Co. of Beijing and located in Mongolia.

The equipment will shift thousands of tons of coal a day from silos to a facility that will mix it with a catalyst and burn it generate electricity.

The "mid-six-figure contract" was obtained through Govoni Sim Bianca Impianti S.p.A., an Italian company supplying equipment for the plant, Vibra Screw said.