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Michael Page Profit Climbs on Growth in Asia, Latin America

March 7 (Bloomberg) -- Michael Page International Plc, the U.K.’s second-biggest recruitment company, said full-year profit climbed five-fold, boosted by growth in Asia and Latin America.

Net income rose to 67.5 million pounds ($110 million), or 21.1 pence a share, from 12.4 million pounds, or 3.8 pence a share, a year earlier, the Surrey, England-based company said in a Regulatory News Service statement today. Revenue climbed 16 percent to 832.3 million pounds.

The recruiter is expanding in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to compensate for weak economies in the U.K. and Ireland. Michael Page more than doubled its headcount in Asia in 2010, opening a seventh office in China and a second office in Singapore, it said in the statement. The company has so far opened offices in Malaysia and India this year and may look at getting into Indonesia, Taiwan and Colombia, Chief Executive Steve Ingham said today.

“We are looking at new countries in south east Asia, Indonesia is an obvious one, and Taiwan; in Latin America, we are looking Colombia,” Ingham said by phone today. “In lesser developed markets, there is very little competition which explains why our growth has been the strongest in these regions.”

Revenue from permanent placements in 2010 grew 37 percent to 356 million pounds, providing 43 percent of the group’s revenue, Michael Page said. Revenue from temporary placements grew 4.3 percent to 476.3 million pounds.

U.K. Stabilizing

“Strength overseas continues to drive the business forward and conditions in the U.K. are stabilizing,” Henry Carver, an analyst with Peel Hunt LLP said in a note to investors today. “The outlook for 2011 is confident and the cash position is strong.” Carver recommends holding the stock.

The U.K., Michael Page’s single biggest country market, made up 28 percent of the recruiter’s gross profits in 2010, down from 32 percent the year before. About 90 percent of Michael Page’s business in the U.K. is from non-government bodies, Ingham said.

“Austerity measures have made it very difficult,” Ingham said. “Our most extreme growth is elsewhere.”

Hays Plc, the U.K.’s largest recruitment agency, posted a first-half profit last month after an “excellent performance” in the Asia-Pacific region.

Michael Page shares fell 11 pence, or 2.1 percent, to 524.5 pence at the 4:30 p.m. close in London, giving the company a market value of 1.61 billion pounds.

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Lawrence in London at rlawrence7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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