The workforce solutions team at international legal practice Osborne Clarke has acted on a further five deals, which closed throughout the end of 2016 and the first month of 2017, following the five reported in September 2016 . The latest is the acquisition by FL Partners, a Dublin based boutique, of UK-based construction recruitment firm Potensis Recruitment, together with SEAL Resource Management, a related business. Osborne Clarke advised the sellers of Potensis on the sale and related reinvestment into the acquisition vehicle. The Osborne Clarke team was led by Partner Matthew Bodfield, supported by Associate Director Mark Saunders and Associate John Jarvis.

Partner Matthew Bodfield commented:

“This was an interesting deal, and it was good to see the interest from both debt and equity providers coming together to support this acquisition in the sector. It shows the continued draw the recruitment space has for buyers and funders of all kinds, notwithstanding the changing landscape for contractors that is emerging.”

The deal comes on the back of a number of other recent transactions in the sector on which Osborne Clarke has acted, including:

  • Advising AIM quoted Empresaria Group plc, the international specialist staffing group, on its investment in a 65% interest in ConSol Partners (Holdings) Limited.  ConSol is a specialist recruitment group in the IT sector with a focus on the niche sectors of communications & mobile, cloud technologies and the digital supply chain, operating in the UK, USA and Continental Europe.  The 65% interest in Consol was acquired by Empresaria for cash consideration of £9.4m.  The Osborne Clarke team was led by Partner Mark Wesker and included Associates Oliver Gingell, Shaziya Kurmani and Elizabeth Shanahan.
  • Advising Growth Capital Partners (“GCP”) on its investment in Shorterm Group, a leading specialist technical engineering recruitment and training company. GCP is an independent private equity company which invests in growing UK SMEs. Its investment and partnership with Shorterm’s management will support the continued strong growth of the business, facilitate its entry into new sectors, and accelerate the development of its training division. The Osborne Clarke team that advised GCP on the investment was led by Partner Alisdair Livingstone, who was assisted by Partner Kevin Barrow and Associate Director Chris Yeo.
  • Advising a major US staffing company on discrete UK related aspects of its acquisition of a European professional recruitment company. The Osborne Clarke team was led by Matthew Bodfield.
  • Advising a recruitment management services provider on its investment from a venture growth fund. The Osborne Clarke team was led by Matthew Bodfield.

International workforce solutions specialist partner, Kevin Barrow said:

“We are involved in another four developing deals scheduled to complete in the next few months and so deal appetite is clearly still strong – private equity companies and providers of debt (to buy out founders) seem particularly keen on the sector, and it will be interesting to see if there are also US and Japanese backed ‘bargain’ deals in the UK given the apparent robust performance of UK companies and relative weakness of the pound. Brexit has not seemed to prevent deals, and for various reasons many recruiters seem to be relatively unaffected. And the US and Japanese staffing industries seem to be thriving but looking for new sources of revenue and growth.”

Workforce Solutions head Frances Lewis added:

“The key current due diligence issue is the affect on future staffing company profitability of the tax changes (in the UK and across Europe) hitting suppliers of contractors, with private equity buyers noting all Government action (and media coverage) of this issue and being particularly keen to govern against the risk of major tax claims, or other effects on future profit. Trade buyers may not be so concerned given that they live with these worldwide sector challenges day in day out.”

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