Jacobs Sells 16% Stake in Adecco in $2.5 Billion Deal

Jacobs Holding AG, the largest investor in Adecco SA (ADEN), sold about 16 percent in the provider of temporary workers to help diversify assets.

Jacobs Holding, Jacobs family members and the Jacobs Foundation placed more than 30.2 million shares at 71.50 Swiss francs each in an accelerated book building managed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Jacobs Holding said in a statement today. That values the deal at about 2.16 billion Swiss francs ($2.5 billion).

Jacobs Holding became a main shareholder in Adecco after late billionaire Klaus Jacobs merged Adia Interim SA with Philippe Foriel-Destezet’s Ecco SA in 1996. The Swiss investment company is unwinding its stake after Adecco shares were trading at their highest level since 2007.

“Jacobs Holding is now entering into a new phase,” Chairman Andreas Jacobs said in a separate statement yesterday. “We have decided to exit a large part of our investment in Adecco in order to be more diversified for the benefit of our sole beneficiary, the Jacobs Foundation.”

Adecco shares fell as much as 8.6 percent in Zurich trading, the biggest intraday drop since August 2011. The stock was down 6.9 percent at 73.20 Swiss francs as of 10:21 a.m.

Adecco said today that it has been informed of the sale, without commenting further. Jacobs Holding and some family members will retain a stake of about 2.5 percent after the sale. The company uses its dividends to fund the Jacobs Foundation, a philanthropic body.

Chocolate Industry

Barry Callebaut AG, the largest manufacturer of chocolate, is a main holding for Jacobs and the investment company plans to build more diversified investments around it.

“We will decide on new participations and investments over time,” Andreas Jacobs said in yesterday’s statement.

Klaus Jacobs, a German-born entrepreneur who died in 2008, played a prominent role in the chocolate industry, selling the Toblerone brand to Philip Morris Cos. in 1990 and forming Barry Callebaut.

Glattbrugg, Switzerland-based Adecco climbed to 78.60 Swiss francs in Zurich yesterday, the highest level in more than six years, after reporting earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. Results were driven by hiring in Germany, Austria and Italy.

The price range for the sale of the Jacobs’ stake was initially set at 71 Swiss francs to 73 Swiss francs apiece, two people with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.

Additional share sales for companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa have raised about $20 billion this year, compared with $18 billion in the same period last year as shareholders take advantage of an economic recovery in the region to pare down stakes and raise capital, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Livesey in San Francisco at blivesey@bloomberg.net; Ruth David in London at rdavid9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecile Daurat at cdaurat@bloomberg.net Robert Valpuesta, Ben Livesey

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