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UK - Norman Broadbent announces new business ventures, a Belgian acquisition, and share offer

14 November 2012

International executive search firm, Norman Broadbent (NBB:LSE), made a bumper announcement to the Stock Exchange this morning concerning the launch of a separately branded, “mid-market” volume recruitment business in early 2013; to capitalise, in its own words, on the growing trend in the market place to seek a value driven recruitment solution below board level.

This wholly owned subsidiary company will target the hiring needs of clients for mid and junior management levels on a typically non-retained fee basis. The strategy of this new business will be to build strong teams initially servicing corporates in growth markets such as technology, telecoms, pharmaceutical, healthcare and certain areas within financial services. This will allow the Company to service the needs of clients who are looking to experience an extension of the relationship they hold with the Norman Broadbent search business, but through a distinctly different service offering. Norman Broadbent’s Chairman Pierce Casey will also chair this new brand. The new business is expected to break-even within the second year.

The Company is also forming a new partnership led by Adam Gordon, the founder of `WinningWork' and `Social Media Search', two established and respected brands in the social media industry. The Company owns 51% of a new subsidiary which will initially trade under these two brands with Adam Gordon, as Chief Executive, retaining a 49% interest.  

WinningWork focuses on providing a bespoke consulting service to senior executives, developing their online business profiles and personal brands. It also enables professional service executives to generate targeted business development opportunities using established social media platforms. Social Media Search will answer the rapid response needs of internal recruiters. According to the company it will provide businesses with quick, targeted candidate lists and reference information, through skilled media trained employees who understand the breadth of social media and how to access and verify accurate information.

In a separate development Norman Broadbent declared the acquisition of 51% of the issued share capital of Acker Deboeck & Company SPRL ("Acker Deboeck") for a total consideration of £250,000. Acker Deboeck is an established, profitable, board level leadership consulting and executive search business. Headquartered in Brussels, Acker Deboeck feels it has strong European client relationships, particularly in France.

Acker Deboeck was founded by Michel Deboeck, an occupational psychologist and former Chief Human Resource Officer at BNP Paribas Fortis. Mr Deboeck will retain a 49% interest in the company, which will be rebranded as Norman Broadbent from January 2013. Mr Deboeck will work closely with the heads of the existing offices to focus on building Norman Broadbent's market share across core European markets.  

According to the firm, the acquisition builds on Norman Broadbent's growing reputation in, and commitment to, leadership consulting. This commitment is further demonstrated by the recent appointment of Carole Bodell as Managing Director of NB: Leadership Consulting and HADIL. Ms Bodell has 25 years consultancy experience including senior executive positions at Select Appointments and Vedior. She also founded HRi in the UK in 2000 as a joint venture with Vedior, which then merged with Randstad in 2008. Having sold her remaining shares in HRi last year, Ms Bodell is now looking to drive NB: Leadership Consultancy aggressively over the coming years.

These three ventures have been funded in part through the issue of 2,120,600 new ordinary shares in the capital of the Company at a price of 35 pence per share to existing institutional investors, a Director of the Company and another investor, which raised £742,560 (£730,000 net).

The Company has also issued 319,285 new ordinary shares as part of the consideration for the acquisition of 51% of the issued share capital of Acker Deboeck.

Application will be made for the Subscription Shares and the Acquisition Shares for Acker Deboeck to be admitted to trading on AIM. Admission is expected to become effective on 16 November 2012. Following the admission of the Subscription Shares and the Acquisition Shares, the Company will have 13,048,686 ordinary shares in issue.

There has been no trading in the company’s shares today but as of its last trade, Norman Broadbent PLC traded at 36.50 pence, 30.36% above the 52 week low of 28.00 pence set on 12th November, 2012 but 39.17% below a year ago.


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