Recruitment sector M&A activity quarterly update

The final quarter of 2022 maintained the momentum of deal activity in the recruitment market, with a total of 17 completions. 

While this was two deals less than Q3 2022, it was in line with the volume of deals completed in Q4 2021. This is despite a lack of deals being recorded in December 2022, which may be partly due to the lag time to publish completions. 

Private Equity (PE) deals accounted for 35% of deals completed in Q4 2022, in comparison to 58% in Q3 2022. The change in deal type split was due to growing interest in debt-funded management buyouts (MBOs), which accounted for 12% of deals completed in Q4 2022, and trade deals which accounted for 53%. This was in response to more favourable lending conditions at that time.

The top three most active subsectors continue to be Recruitment platform/software firms (29%of deals), IT (18% of deals), and Healthcare (12%of deals). Engineering/ construction/industrial sectors grew to match Healthcare activity at 12% of deals, however this is down from a high of 31% in Q2 2022.

Q4 completions continued to be strong, in part reflecting deal momentum in Q3. There were no December completions reported, which partly reflects a Christmas lag but also signs of investors taking longer to assess performance given (i) macro-economic uncertainty in Q4 and (ii) debt-markets tightening.

Niche players with a deep specialism and international reach continued to perform – and we were delighted to have performed sell-side due diligence on Hale International’s exit to HIG-backed OGR Inc.

The outlook for the first half of 2023 is likely to be more cautious, but we expect this to vary significantly by sector.

Jonathan Wade – Corporate Finance Partner, RSM



The below table details the transactions occurring within the UK human capital space in Q4 of 2022, with PE deals shown in bold.

Disclaimer: the below information has been aggregated from information within the public domain (sources: PitchBook, Mergermarket) and RSM has made no attempt to verify its accuracy or completeness.

Q4 2022 M&A Activity in the UK Recruitment Sector

Transaction date  Company Target Description Investors
October 2022 Unite People Provider of specialist construction recruitment solutions catering to building, civil engineering, rail and residential sectors. The company offers professional appointments on both a freelance, contract and permanent basis specializing in roads, highways, industrial, distribution and tunnelling. MBO funded by Aldermore Bank
October 2022 Talos360 Limited Developer of talent acquisition and employee engagement platforms intended to help firms attract, engage and retain suitable candidates. The company's tools streamline the candidate management process, from applicant attraction and candidate management to video interviewing and onboarding. LDC
October 2022 Signet Resources Provider of staffing and recruitment services intended to serve employees and businesses. The company specializes in delivering permanent and interim resourcing solutions across human resources, marketing, finance and commercial operations. Macildowie Recruitment
October 2022 Zen Educate Limited Provider of online education staffing platform to connect schools with teachers. A group of investors led by Brighteye Advisors SAS:
Ascension Health Ventures, LLC; Adjuvo; Brighteye Ventures; Simon Rogerson (Private Individual); Chris Hulatt (Private Individual)
October 2022 Clinpal Developer of end-to-end clinical research platform intended for virtual, hybrid, and direct-to-patient studies. The company's platform offers patient recruitment, engagement, retention, and data acquisition in clinical studies with appropriate services from recruitment through the study lifecycle and beyond. Cambridge Cognition
October 2022 Networx (UK) Provider of recruitment and consulting services catering to the healthcare sector in the United Kingdom and internationally. The company specializes in consultancy, advisory, change and program management and delivery as well as recruitment for fixed and specialist roles. Nordic Consulting Group
October 2022 Red Global Ltd A local holding company with business in integration technology recruitment, specialising in permanent and contract services. AEA Investors
October 2022 Synergy Promotions Provider of marketing services based in Belfast, United Kingdom. The company promotes luxury goods in world duty-free shops and provides specialized staff to the travel retail industry for liquor, fragrance and beauty promotions. Andera Partners, Globe Groupe
October 2022 Encore Personnel Services Limited A recruitment agency providing temporary and permanent jobs to the industrial, driving, energy, engineering, manufacturing, managed services and professional services sectors. Gi Group SpA
November 2022 eTraining Ltd Based in London, the company provides flexible and accredited programs which include apprenticeships, diplomas, and work-based learning, with a strong pedigree in health and social care, digital, leadership and management and business apprenticeships, along with business consultancy, recruitment and bespoke training. Twin Group
November 2022 Sydney Taylor Provider of IT recruitment services and consulting to clients. The company specializes in using technology and digital transformation to recruit all levels of technical and delivery resources and sales and marketing to C-level leadership. Factotum Group
November 2022 Symbiosis Search Provider of executive search recruiting services to the enterprise software and software-as-a-service market sectors. The company specializes in hiring senior executives and management across all business functions and particularly within sales, customer success, marketing, presales and services. Sheffield Haworth
November 2022 PingPong (Maidenhead) Developer of UX research platform and user tests intended to provide solution from recruitment to pay out. The company provides product research by finding and scheduling interviews with users from all around the world, enabling clients and HR to recruit, interview, analyse and compensate the payments. HotJar
November 2022 Cavell Healthcare Provider of domiciliary and nursing care intended to serve families. The company provides various services which includes home care, live-in care, nursing and staffing solutions, alongside operating a healthcare training academy. East Coast Community Healthcare
November 2022 V7 Recruitment Provider of recruitment solutions catering to aviation, construction, data centres, utilities, fire and security and pharmaceutical industries. The company offers contract recruitment, permanent recruitment, job adverts, talent mapping, talent analytics and payroll services. Management Buyout (MBO) funded by Zodeq
November 2022 Hale International Limited UK-based recruitment company supplying both temp and perm Workday professionals into the US. Oxford Global Resources

For more information, please contact Jonathan Wade.