Saongroup in $30m China deal

Saongroup — the international online recruitment business controlled by Denis O’Brien and Leslie Buckley — has significantly expanded its Chinese operations by acquiring a $30m (€22.2m) controlling stake in the local operations of rival recruiter, Monster.

The Dublin-headquartered group — which operates across 29 countries, including here, via the IrishJobs.ie website — already has a significant presence in China.

The acquisition will see Saongroup add to that presence by taking control of 90% of ChinaHR.com, Monster’s Chinese operation.

Monster will retain a 10% holding in the business, but had been looking to dispose of its Chinese business.

The New York-based group’s chief executive, Sal Iannuzzi, said yesterday that it had “found the right partner in Saongroup”.

The cost of the acquisition has not been disclosed, but is believed to be in the region of $30m.

Similarly, the Irish group’s chief executive, Ciaran McCooey, referred to ChinaHR as being an excellent match with the existing Saongroup China business.

“Its blue-chip client list and strong tier-one city presence complements Saongroup’s robust online platform and pan-China reach,” said Mr McCooey.

He added that the acquisition — which is effective immediately — repositions Saongroup as a market leader in the local marketplace, “and leaves us well-positioned to accelerate our growth in the Chinese market”.

Saongroup’s existing Chinese operations consist of a nationwide network of offices and websites across the country’s secondary and smaller cities and regions.

The addition of the ChinaHR business will boost that network to almost 200 cities across the country.

It will also, crucially, give the group a strong presence in China’s main cities of Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

In November, Sanogroup’s most recently filed accounts for 2011 showed a near 14% rise in annual net turnover to €31.7m.

However, that year’s profits were eaten into by the group’s increased investment in both its established businesses and in upping its presence in developing markets.

As part of those accounts, the group’s management revealed that its growth model will probably remain as a mix of organic and acquisition-led, as illustrated by the details of the Monster acquisition.

Mr McCooey said last year that Saongroup’s 2012 accounts would likely show further double-digit percentage revenue growth.

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