Marlborough buys secretarial job agency for £3.9m


Marlborough International, the largest Irish recruitment company, has acquired a Dublin-based competitor, Ann O'Brien Personnel Consultants, for a maximum consideration of £3.9 million (€3.1 million).

Ann O'Brien, with just one outlet in Fitzwilliam Street, is well known as a recruiter for secretarial services. The acquisition makes Marlborough the largest Irish company in this sector, a spokesman said yesterday, but regulatory problems are not envisaged because of the number of remaining competitors in the market.

Marlborough International operates under its own name in the Republic and it also owns Professional Placement and Walker Hamill. The Ann O'Brien name will also be retained and will be used on dedicated lines in the Marlborough offices, Mr David McKenna, managing director, said.

He said Ann O'Brien had a turnover of about £3.3 million, compared with Marlborough's £38.8 million, £21.7 million of which arose in the Republic in 1998. Ann O'Brien made a pre-tax profit of £347,404 for the year to June 30th. It has net assets of £270,032.

Mr McKenna said it would increase the number of names on Marlborough's database by 25,000 to 225,000. Founded in 1976, the company employs 11 people. Its founder members and shareholders, Ms Ann O'Brien and Ms Dolores Mullen, will continue working as part-time consultants "for an agreed period", Mr McKenna added.

"Our own multiple is in excess of twelve at the moment. It [the acquisition] is EPS enhancing for us straight away," he said. Most of Marlborough's listed British competitors are on multiples of about nine, indicating that they are lower growth companies.

An initial cash payment of £3.1 million is being paid to to Ms O'Brien and Ms Mullen, and a deferred payment of £450,000 will be made in cash or Marlborough shares on September 15th, subject to the companies profit performance for the year ended June 30th. A second deferred payment, to a value of £350,000, is payable three months following the transaction subject to the trading performance of the company.

Marlborough's acquisition follows its purchase of the Belfast-based secretarial company, Sylvia Gray, in May for a consideration of £208,000. It will be integrated along with Ann O'Brien into a new all-Ireland office specialist organisation.