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Trying to Tap Assessment Needs of Global Firms, SHL and PreVisor Merge

January 11, 2011
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Employee testing specialists SHL and PreVisor are joining forces, the latest example of consolidation in the field of talent management services.

London-based SHL and Atlanta-based PreVisor on Jan. 11 announced they have merged to create a powerhouse in employment-related assessment. The combined company, named SHL Group, has a presence in more than 50 countries, products in more than 30 languages and estimated annual revenue of about $200 million. Clients include Barclays, Coca-Cola Co., Microsoft Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc.

Executives say the agreement partly reflects clients’ desire to work with a single vendor on a worldwide basis that can offer a broad set of assessment products. The merger, terms of which were not disclosed, also comes in the context of companies looking to base key people-management decisions such as hiring and promotions on better data.

“The use of assessment has become more and more strategic,” says Caroline Paxman, president for the new organization for the United States, Canada and Latin America.

The past few years have witnessed many mergers and acquisitions among companies providing services and technology for managing talent. Other recent examples of consolidation include SumTotal Systems Inc.’s acquisition of Softscape Inc., Kenexa Corp.’s $80 million purchase of Salary.com and Lawson Software’s $70 million acquisition of Enwisen.

The talent management field has attracted the interest of private equity investors, which are betting companies will keep paying for tools and advice to maximize their investments in people.

SHL was owned by U.K.-based private equity firm HgCapital, and PreVisor was a portfolio company of U.S.-headquartered private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson, or VSS. The combined company is owned by both Hg and VSS.

Robert Morgan, who was named chief marketing officer of SHL Group, says both SHL and PreVisor saw increasing business last year as clients faced high volume of job applicants and viewed each of their relatively few hires as important.

SHL Group, which will be called SHL PreVisor in the United States, offers consulting services as well as more than 1,000 assessments. Among the products are packages designed to gauge candidates’ fitness for particular jobs, such as call center agent, nurse and retail store manager.

Other firms offering employment assessment products include Development Dimensions International and Kenexa.

SHL Group, which is based in London, has about 850 employees. SHL and PreVisor had fewer than 40 customers in common. Clients of the joint firm include more than half of the Fortune Global 500, 80 percent of the FTSE 100 Index and half of the Australian Securities Exchange.

PreVisor was the result of a 2006 merger of several assessment companies, including Qwiz, ePredix and PDRI. Paxman says PreVisor had relatively more strength in technology, while SHL had more of a focus on consulting and assessment science.

But she says blending the cultures of the two will not prove difficult. Both organizations share a focus on customers and a belief in the power of greater intelligence about people. “It’s sort of like a marriage,” says Paxman, who came from PreVisor but was born in the United Kingdom. “Do we view the industry and the market in the same way? The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ ”

—Ed Frauenheim

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