LONDON High growth markets in Asia and Latin America will help recruitment firm Michael Page International MPI.L ride out increasingly tough conditions in Europe and meet full-year expectations, its Chief Executive told Reuters on Tuesday.
The British firm, which places people in accounting, financial and legal jobs, said trading in Europe had worsened as companies spooked by economic fears in Greece, Italy and Spain held off on hiring, while banking markets continued to choke.
Buoyed by strong demand for engineering expertise in resource sectors like oil and gas and mining, business in Asia and Latin America has left the group upbeat on prospects for 2012, Michael Page CEO Steve Ingham said in an interview.
"This year to me doesn't look like a bad year," Ingham said, adding that the group was in line to meet a company consensus full-year pretax profit of 75.5 million pounds ($117.11 million)for 2012. The group will post second-quarter results on July 9.
"The UK is pretty flat, some parts of Europe are getting worse, one or two economies are getting impacted by the global situation outside of Europe, particularly as we deal with multi-national companies that have big European operations, but it is not that bad anywhere."
The exception would be the banking sector - about 8 percent of group profit - which in Europe has been hit by a series of factors ranging from increased regulation to tough trading conditions, forcing many lenders to shed staff and keep a lid on hiring as part of a clamp down on costs.
"There is still business out there but have they (bank hiring freezes) relented and started to improve? No, frankly," Ingham said.
In its first-quarter results posted in April Michael Page's group banking fees fell 12 percent, including by half in the UK, where banking accounts for around 5 percent of its business.
The firm, which competes with London listed rivals such as Hays (HAYS.L) and Robert Walters (RWA.L), said it would continue to invest in faster growing markets to offset European woes.
"Key markets for us are Latin America, Asia, Germany and Africa. Engineering, supply chain, logistics, procurement, tend to be the ones that are doing better. They're more specialist, clients don't find it easy to find their own people," Ingham said.
The group, which has moved into Colombia, Morocco and Taiwan this year to take its footprint to 35 countries, said it was considering moves into Indonesia and another Latin American country by the end of the year or early 2013, and was also looking at increasing its presence in Africa.
A survey by employment services firm Manpower Group (MAN.N) on Monday showed that global hiring prospects have improved slightly.
Shares in the FTSE 250 firm, which in April posted a 7 percent rise in first quarter net fees, closed at 363.1 pence on Tuesday, down around 25 percent on three months ago.
($1 = 0.6447 British pounds)