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Cavendish Leads The Sale Of The IT Job Board

Cavendish Leads The Sale Of The IT Job Board

Deal highlights the expertise and overseas reach of Cavendish’s recruitment sector team

Cavendish Corporate Finance, the UK’s leading sell side mid-market M&A firm, announces it has advised SThree plc, the international specialist recruitment firm, on the sale of their online recruitment platform The IT Job Board to Dice Holdings Inc., a leading provider of specialised websites for professional communities.

Dice Holdings Inc. has purchased the outstanding shares of Job board Enterprises Limited, the corporate entity of The IT Job Board, for initial consideration of net &pound9.2 million in cash. Additional consideration up to a maximum of &pound3 million in cash is payable upon the achievement of certain financial targets ending in 2014. The acquisition allows Dice to expand into new markets, create more growth opportunities and better serve its global customers.

The IT Job Board simplifies IT job searches through a network of tech career sites spanning the UK, Germany, Belgium and Holland and the strength of the company’s technology platform and database have been key drivers of growth. The site receives nearly a quarter of a million visits per month and has nearly one million technology professionals registered to match against hiring managers’ job opportunities, providing its customers quick and easy access to targeted, high-quality technical talent.

SThree was founded in 1986 and is the parent company of various organically grown recruitment brands including Computer Futures, Progressive Recruitment, Huxley Associates and Real Staffing Group. Its subsidiaries specialise in ICT, Engineering & Energy, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, Banking and Accountancy & Finance recruitment services.

Dice Holdings Inc. is a leading provider of specialised websites for professional communities including technology and engineering, financial services, energy, healthcare and security clearance. It provides customers with access to high-quality, unique professional communities and offers those communities access to highly relevant career opportunities and information, serving markets in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

The global M&A market for recruitment firms is on the rise following a significant recovery in deal flow over the past 12 months as the sector appears to have finally emerged from the fall out of the 2007/2008 economic crisis. The UK, which is the third largest global HR services market behind the US and Japan, is leading the revival. Transaction volume is up by 70%, rising from 22 deals in 2010 to 37 deals in 2012. This outpaced Europe, where deal volume rose by close to 40% from 56 in 2010 to 77 in 2012.

The impact of this renewed interest in recruitment firms has been healthy rise in valuations, with the median EBITDA multiple on transactions rising to 9.8x last year from 7x in 2010.  Most of the deals so far have been in the mid-market, with target companies having a median annual revenue of close to &pound20 million. Factors behind the increase in deal flow include the gathering economic recovery, the return of private equity buyers to the market, the need for recruitment businesses to follow their clients as they move into new markets, the rise in temporary/contingent working, which has meant recruitment firms have had to expand into this area, often through acquisition, and consolidation as larger players acquire smaller competitors.

Caroline Belcher, Partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance, commented: “We have had a long-term relationship with IT Job Board and worked closely with management planning this exit. We focused exclusively on potential international buyers as we believed they would offer the best strategic fit and also were therefore likely to offer the most attractive price.  The sale by SThree, an international specialist recruitment firm, of The IT Job Board, its online recruitment platform, to another online recruiter illustrates the debate in the sector at the moment about  whether online recruiters work best as standalone businesses or can be equally effective as part of recruitment companies.”

The overall revival in recruitment sector M&A globally has clearly been mirrored in the UK, with the strong, 70% rise in deal flow last year outpacing Europe. Quoted deal multiples have also increased by around 40%, from 7 times in 2010 to 9.8 times last year and areas which are commanding the most interest are specialist recruitment firms in sectors such as IT, Oil & Gas and Healthcare. Our pipeline of potential deals is the strongest it has been for about five years and we think the outlook for selling recruitment businesses will only improve going forward.”

The deal was led by Cavendish Partner Caroline Belcher, supported by Partner Peter Gray and Director Anya Cummins.

Cavendish completed on 17 sales of businesses in 2012 and has completed eight deals so far this year. Its most recent transaction in the recruitment sector was advising last year on the sale of Timothy James Consulting to Hamilton Bradshaw. Previous recruitment deals include Police Recruit to G4S, James Harvard International Group to Hays plc, Marks Satin to Greythorn and Digby Morgan Consulting to Vedior.

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