Business Irish

Saturday 17 March 2018

O'Brien and Buckley sell online jobs portal Saongroup to unit of Axel Springer

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Denis O'Brien and Leslie Buckley have sold the company behind to a unit of the German publisher Axel Springer.

Jobs portal firm Saongroup – which has operations in Africa, Europe and the Americas, as well as Ireland, has been sold by the two businessmen for an undisclosed sum. They will retain ownership of the fast growing Chinese arm of the business following the deal.

Axel Springer unit StepStone already counts the TotalJobs website in the UK among its brands. Saongrup has operations across four continents and websites in 30 countries that attract 25 million visits a month.

The deal with StepStone does not include Saongroup's Chinese business, however, which accounts for around 2,700 of the 3,000 staff employed by the group.

The business that is being sold includes operations in Ireland, the UK and Luxembourg, in Africa – including South Africa and Kenya – and in the Americas, where it operates in the English-speaking Caribbean and across Spanish-speaking Central America.

Earlier this year Saongroup added to its existing operations in China when it bought ChinaHR, the Chinese arm of online recruitment giant Monster. That deal means it now operates in close to 200 cities in the world's second-largest economy. All of Saongroup's Chinese operations will now be rebranded as ChinaHR.

Saongroup chairman Leslie Buckley (pictured) welcomed the deal with StepStone.

He said: "We are very pleased to have concluded the transaction and wish StepStone every success with the future of this excellent business.

"We particularly wish to thank all the management and employees of Saongroup, who are transferring as part of the transaction, for their huge contribution to the development of the business."

He added: "Our focus going forward is now on the Chinese operation, in which we have invested heavily over the past six years and which has seen very significant growth."

The chief executive of Saongroup, Ciaran McCooey, will transfer to StepStone, along with staff at the group's headquarters in Dublin and other employees outside China.

"We are delighted to be joining StepStone, with whom we have had a close relationship for many years through our membership of The Network," Mr McCooey said.

Irish Independent

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