Japanese Recruitment Giants Eye Australian Businesses


Japanese investors are making waves in the APAC recruitment industry following a series of acquisitions in the second quarter of 2015. Among the most notable, Japanese recruitment giant Recruit Holdings has targeted prominent Australian staffing companies in an effort to expand its presence across greater Asia Pacific. Longstanding Bullhorn customers Chandler Macleod Asia and Peoplebank Australia are two key examples – both were acquired by Recruit in the second quarter of this year.

Chandler Macleod was purchased in full for a total of 53c per share, totaling over 290.4 million AUD or 7.6 times Chandler Macleod’s FY2014 EBITDA. Peoplebank was also acquired in its entirety from majority shareholder Navis Capital and retiring founder Leon Lau for a phenomenal $122 million AUD. Subsequently, Recruit saw an increase in net revenue of 26.3% according to its quarterly results, released in June.

Although these two instances have made a large splash in industry news, they are by no means singular occurrences. In a string of acquisitions this year, other notable activity from Japanese buyers includes Outsourcing Inc., a prominent Japanese staffing company, purchasing Bluefin Resources for $20 million AUD in August. In a unique twist, Bluefin Resources staff will receive 25% of this value as part of an incentive scheme to retain employees.

This recent upsurge of Japanese activity within Australia and greater Asia Pacific has been the topic of increasing speculation. Although the long-term strategic intentions of Japanese purchasers is ambiguous, many hopeful recruitment agency owners are beginning to consider the possibility of selling shop should there be sufficient interest. There is, however, a commonality among the aforementioned acquisitions this year: Chandler Macleod, Peoplebank Australia, and Bluefin Resources are all incredibly results-oriented companies that place a high importance on building scalable, measurable operations. This is exemplified by the fact that they’ve all chosen the market-leading recruitment CRM provider, Bullhorn, as their preferred recruitment software platform.

Rod Hore, Director at HHMC Global, is a recruitment industry authority specialising in equity transactions. Having recently published an article advocating the importance of technology, Rod believes technology and business process maturity is a critical competitive differentiator. HHMC itself is an independent advisory group focused on the Asia-Pacific recruitment industry that deals specifically with mergers and acquisitions. Speaking on what he believes has generated the recent interest from Japanese buyers and what staffing companies can do to maximise their marketplace value, Rod said:

Those organisations that strive to achieve corporate characteristics are being rewarded with attention from international acquirers at the moment.  These characteristics include above average size, great strategy and governance, clear financial performance, strong management teams, and a passion for the future of the industry. The recent deals emphasise the return of long term sustainable business activity and we will see more transactions in the short to medium term.” – Rod Hore, Director, HHMC

Being acquired is not necessarily the goal of every budding recruitment agency. However, long-term sustainable business activity is universally recognised and directly transferable to the equity value of a company. Part of the professionalism that has made Peoplebank Australia, Chandler Macleod, and Bluefin Resources attractive to foreign investors is the fact that they have adopted the best data practices and latest technological innovations. Doing so both solidifies the resilience of a company undergoing a change of management and provides credible transparency into operations. Bullhorn’s CRM for staffing is a tried and tested software platform for recruitment agencies looking to adopt best practice operations and be recognised as secure players in the industry.

For those interested in learning more about how Bullhorn has improved Peoplebank’s operations, read the Peoplebank case study here.

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