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March 13, 2014 11:45 am
Shares in Adecco fell more than 6 per cent on Thursday, after its largest shareholder, Jacobs Holding AG, sold about 16 per cent of the Swiss staffing company’s shares in a bid to diversify its portfolio of assets.
Jacobs Holding, as well as the Jacobs Foundation, and members of the Jacobs family, whose late patriarch Klaus Jacobs oversaw the creation of Adecco in 1996 by merging two staffing companies, Adia and Ecco, sold about 30.2m shares to institutional investors in an accelerated book build on Thursday morning.
The shares were priced at SFr71.5, valuing the transaction at about SFr2.16bn (€1.78bn), and came when Adecco’s shares were trading at multiyear highs.
On Wednesday, the group pleased investors by announcing its first quarter of revenue growth since early 2012, and pointing to tentative signs of improvement in the European jobs market.
Jacobs Holding is not the only investor in recent months to take advantage of the strong performance of the Swiss stock market index, the SMI, which is up 55 per cent since mid 2011. In December, Nestlé sold its entire 10 per cent stake in the scents and flavourings company, Givaudan.
Andreas Jacobs, chairman of Jacobs Holding, said that the holding company had taken its decision for the sake of its sole beneficiary, the Jacobs Foundation, and would focus its portfolio around its majority stake in the Swiss chocolate group, Barry Callebaut.
“Jacobs Holding is now entering into a new phase,” he said in a statement on Tuesday evening. “We seek to build a more diversified investment portfolio around Barry Callebaut with our professional holding company and we will decide on new participations and investments over time.”
As well as playing an instrumental role in the creation of recruitment agency Adecco, Klaus Jacobs was also an influential figure in the chocolate industry. He helped create Barry Callebaut through the merger of the Belgian chocolate producer Callebaut and the French chocolate company Cacao Barry in 1996, and the Jacobs family has remained a core shareholder ever since.
Following its divestment, Jacobs Holding will retain about 4.7m shares in Adecco, giving it a stake of around 2.5 per cent in the company.
Adecco said that it had been informed of the placement of 16 per cent of its shares with institutional investors, but did not comment further.
The book build was managed by Goldman Sachs.
Shares in Adecco stood at SFr73.6, down SFr5, in mid-morning trading in Zurich.
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