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World – Japan’s largest staffing firm to go public

27 June 2012

Recruit Co, the world’s fourth largest staffing firm, is planning to go public as early as next year in a drive to boost global expansion, the firm’s President Masumi Minegishi said at a shareholder’s meeting last week.

It has been reported that this could be the largest initial public offering the country has seen in recent years. It is also likely it could be the largest IPO the staffing industry has ever seen.

In an email sent to staff, Mr Minegishi is said to have announced the company’s plans to accelerate global expansion through mergers and acquisitions and operational alliances as the firm is planning 400 billion yen to 500 billion yen in overseas investments (approximately €4 billion to €5 billion), with the listing expected to secure the required funds.

According to various sources quoted in the local press, the company is going to especially enforce its staffing services in the United States. This comes after Recruit has already made significant acquisitions outside its home market adding US staffing company, Staffmark, to its portfolio in October 2011 followed by the North American and European operations of the international staffing firm, Advantage, in January 2012.

A spokesman told Reuters that Recruit is aiming to list the firm’s shares as a way to achieve its medium to long-term growth strategy. “But details like the timing or where we list are issues to be debated starting from now,” he said. It is reported that possible bourses include the Tokyo Stock Exchange or the Osaka Securities Exchange.

According to recent Staffing Industry Analysts’ research on the top staffing firms in Japan, Recruit Co. is the largest staffing firm in Japan. The company is not a pure staffing business however with additional revenues coming from classified media and service offerings related to bridal, housing, cars, travel, education, restaurant and beauty.

Though a private company at the moment, Recruit did have a public listing previously. The news of an impending IPO has sparked press attention on the firm’s involvement in a high-profile shares-for-favours scandal that happened more than 20 years ago which still holds resonance in Japan as it brought down the Japanese Government. Recruit founder, Hiromasa Ezoe, was found guilty in 1988 of granting unlisted shares in one of the firm's subsidiaries, Recruit Cosmos Co, to a number of politicians, business leaders and senior bureaucrats. The affair is notorious enough to have warranted its own entry in Wikipedia.

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