UPDATE 1-Robert Walters net fees rise 12 pct

Thu Apr 5, 2012 2:50am EDT

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* Q1 net fee income up at 44.7 mln stg

* Says still some caution among clients and candidates

April 5 (Reuters) - Robert Walters got off to a strong start in 2012, with the British recruitment firm posting a 12 percent increase in net fees in the first quarter, helped by growth across all regions in which it operates.

However, the white-collar recruiter, which places people in accountancy, banking, IT and administration jobs, said clients and candidates were still expressing a degree of caution varying from region to region and sector to sector.

"We therefore continue to manage costs sensibly whilst investing where sentiment and long-term growth opportunities are strongest," Chief Executive Robert Walters said in a statement.

The company -- which currently operates in 23 countries -- has been pushing into less mature markets, like the Asia-Pacific region that offer the chance for stronger growth, as its more mature markets grapple with stagnant economies and government austerity measures.

The Asia-Pacific region made up more than half of the company's net fee income in 2011, with the UK and Europe contributing 26 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

For the quarter ended March 31, Robert Walters said net fee income -- also known as gross profit -- rose to 44.7 million pounds ($71 million).

Just last month, rival Michael Page said its market had stabilised after a turbulent 2011, while peer Hays Plc's Chief Executive on Wednesday said he was more optimistic about the global outlook. .

Earlier this week, an industry survey showed that financial firms in Britain, including banks, have started taking on new staff again.

Shares of Robert Walters -- which have gained nearly 62 percent over the past three months -- closed at 263.5 pence on Wednesday on the London Stock Exchange.

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