Career International (CI), who listed in mid 2017 on the Shenzhen stock exchange, have announced a strategic partnership with Investigo Ltd with the purchase of 52.5% of the company’s shares. The acquisition of a controlling interest is CI’s first significant investment since last year’s listing and increases the group’s headcount to c1800 staff.
CI was established in 1996 by Wallace Gao and 3 other partners and now has a network of 86 offices working out of 7 countries in China and South-East Asia. The investment in Investigo is the group’s first acquisition in the west.
Wallace Gao is very excited about the possibilities for the future: “In order for CI to become a leading player in the global human capital market place, we recognise that the UK is probably the most sophisticated and competitive market in the world. As a result, the UK has not only been a great innovator of ideas but also an exporter of talent across the world. Our aim therefore was to invest in a business with an exceptional track-record of success together with a leadership team who would continue the growth story and be able to take us in to Continental Europe. Having looked seriously at a number of organisations, Investigo stood out amongst the crowd.”
The new company will be chaired by Gary Watson who promoted Nick Baxter into the CEO role in October 2017. Watson shares Gao’s optimism for the strategic partnership: “Investigo was established in 2003 with an entrepreneurial mindset and a focus on providing permanent and interim solutions in a number of specialist niche markets. We believe that relationships lie at the heart of our success together with a commitment to recruit and retain experts in each discrete market.”
As a result, Investigo has distinguished itself by growing top line every year since the company’s inception – even throughout the global financial crisis. Baxter explains: “Our entrepreneurial approach has enabled us to offer a market-leading LTIP and so reward those leaders who help to create real value. Our MBO in 2013 (which was backed by Investec) was a great success and provided the platform for us to not only reward and retain key people but also to attract the entrepreneurs to help fuel our future growth. Having successfully delivered 2 LTIP’s to our wider management team in 2013 and now 2018, our third LTIP in 2022 is set to be the most attractive and lucrative yet, both for our existing people and any entrepreneur joining Investigo from 2018 onwards.”
The approach from CI came out of the blue. Watson explains: “To be frank, at that stage, we were well down the path with PE and debt funders. We had envisaged that our 3rd deal in 2022 might be a trade sale but in the meantime, we wanted to maintain our independence by being masters of our own destiny. The only exception we would allow ourselves was a light touch trade investment – and once we got to know CI by spending time with Wallace and the rest of his leadership team, it became a very straight-forward decision.”
Investigo’s CEO Nick Baxter joined the company in 2006 and has seen the company evolve and strengthen in so many ways. “Our new and exciting 2022 business strategy will strengthen Investigo’s position as one of the leading specialist contingent recruiters in the UK. It will enable our people to continue developing their careers, be rewarded for their success and be known as experts in their markets. We are excited by what the future holds because culture, people and focus will continue to be at the heart of everything we do. As well as focusing on organic growth, our plan to open in new locations and new niche markets is supported by a market-leading LTIP which is designed to attract entrepreneurially-minded individuals who believe they can create real value within a 5 year time frame. If you back yourself and believe you can make a difference, we’d love to hear from you.”