Locums To Buy Up Social Work Agency

Healthcare Locums (HCL) is to acquire social-work agency Blue Group International Holdings in an deal worth up to £14m. Healthcare Locums will pay £10m cash on completion of the deal, and a further £2m on the first anniversary of completion. Earn-out payments could be up to £2m.

Founded in 2000 Blue Group, saw 2006 turnover grow to more than £36m. HCL said the deal gives it a “good balance” as it aims to achieve an equal split between its three core markets: allied health professionals, doctors and qualified social workers.

Kate Bleasdale, HCL chief executive said the deal “will transform our social work division and represents a significant step towards achieving our ideal business mix.”

She added: “There’s an overlap between social work and health. We place occupational therapists with local authorities and we place social workers with  hospitals.” There is a “huge shortage” of social workers, especially at the newly-qualified level, she added.

HCL will raise £16m by selling new shares. Money not used for the Blue Group deal will strengthen the balance sheet and finance possible further acquisitions.

This is the seventh acquisition HCL has made since it was founded in 2003. HCL listed on the Alternative Investment Market a year ago. HCL’s annual turnover is about £85m. Bleasdale told Recruiter that she aims to grow this to £250m over the next few years.