Press release

CLS acquires woods whole group

  • 20 February 2017

  • Expansion

  • France, Paris

Paris, February 20, 2017 – CLS, the French satellite services provider, has announced the acquisition of the Woods Hole Group, an American company specializing in environmental, scientific, and engineering consulting. CLS is a subsidiary of CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), Ardian (the independent private investment company) and IFREMER (Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer). With this acquisition, the company confirms its position as an international leader in environmental services.

Founded in 1998 and based in Massachusetts, Woods Hole Group will bolster CLS’ portfolio in scientific, measurement and consulting services. Already a specialist in environmental monitoring, the company can offer its customers value-added solutions including equipment, data analysis, models, services and environmental impact assessments. 

CLS has a workforce of 650 employees across six strategic activity sectors: sustainable fishing management, environmental monitoring, maritime safety, fleet management, energy & mines and ground segments. The company will now benefit from Woods Hole Group’s expertise in observing the impact of global warming on coastal areas, the assessment of ecological risks and the impact of new infrastructure on the environment, as well as developing customised technical plans to restore wetland habitats and to protect rivers. Woods Hole Group enjoys a solid reputation both for the quality of its services and for the skill and dynamism of its teams. 

Woods Hole Group employs nearly 45 people and achieved a turnover of almost US$10 million in 2016. With strong growth in recent years, and with new markets opening up, CLS has set itself the ambitious objective of reaching a turnover which exceeds €125 million in 2017. 

Christophe Vassal, CLS Managing Director, said: “We have high hopes for the future success of our group, which will benefit from the synergy brought by the acquisition of CLS and Woods Hole Group. We share complementary products, services, and solutions. CLS already provides its customers with 30 years of experience in deep sea ocean observation, collecting, processing and dissemination of data. Woods Hole Group will contribute expertise in the fields of coastal and ecology, as well as in the measurement of underwater conditions. We are already heavily involved in measuring the impact of climate change by calculating rising sea levels, observing a changing ocean, and monitoring distressed fauna. Bringing Woods Hole into the CLS Group will help us better serve our customers in dealing with climate issues.”

Baudouin d’Hérouville, Managing Director Ardian Expansion said: "This new transaction, the fourth international acquisition since the beginning of our partnership, is fully in line with the development strategy that motivated our entry into the capital. We will continue to actively explore opportunities for external growth."


Ardian, founded in 1996 and led by Dominique Senequier, is an independent private investment company with assets of US$60bn managed or advised in Europe, North America and Asia. The company, which is majority-owned by its employees, keeps entrepreneurship at its heart and delivers investment performance to its global investors while fuelling growth in economies across the world. Ardian’s investment process embodies three values: excellence, loyalty and entrepreneurship.

Ardian maintains a truly global network, with more than 450 employees working through twelve offices in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Milan, Madrid, Zurich, New York, San Francisco, Beijing, Singapore, Jersey, Luxembourg. The company offers its 580 investors a diversified choice of funds covering the full range of asset classes, including Ardian Funds of Funds (primary, early secondary and secondary), Ardian Private Debt, Ardian Buyout (including Ardian Mid Cap Buyout Europe & North America, Ardian Expansion, Ardian Growth and Ardian Co-Investment), Ardian Infrastructure, Ardian Real Estate and Ardian Mandates.


The Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) is the government agency responsible for shaping and implementing France’s space policy in Europe. Its task is to invent the space systems of the future, bring space technologies to maturity and guarantee France’s independent access to space. CNES is a pivotal player in Europe’s space program and a major source of initiatives and proposals that aim to maintain France and Europe’s competitive edge. The participation of France in the European Space Agency (ESA) is also provided by CNES. It conceives and executes space programs with its partners in the scientific community and industry, and is closely involved in many international cooperation programs – the key to any far-reaching space policy.


Ifremer, through its research work and expert advice, contributes to knowledge of the oceans and their resources, to monitoring marine and coastal environments, and to sustainable development of marine activities. To these ends, Ifremer conceives and operates tools for observation, experimentation and monitoring, and manages oceanographic databases. It also operates a great portion of the ocean research fleet, including all underwater systems and large scale mobile facilities and equipment (seismic, penetrometer, etc.). Created in 1984, Ifremer is a public institute of an industrial and commercial nature (EPIC). It is supervised jointly by the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research and the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs.

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