October 9, 2018 / 6:48 AM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 2-Robert Walters sees strength in UK jobs market, posts record income

* Says Recruitment levels remain highest in UK regions

* Sees pretax profit in line with market expectations

* Plans investment in the Americas and Asia (Recasts, adds detail, background, share price move)

By Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussain

Oct 9 (Reuters) - Robert Walters is benefiting from Britain’s highest recruitment levels for some time, it said on Tuesday, adding that companies are not moving jobs out of the country ahead of the looming departure from the European Union.

The recruiter, which places people in finance, engineering, legal and marketing jobs, also said that any decline in the pound’s value would make Britain’s workforce more attractive to foreign companies.

The company was reporting a record 11.6 percent rise in third-quarter net fee income on increased hiring in Europe and Asia Pacific, with recruitment activity highest in the UK.

Shares in Robert Walters rose 5.6 percent to 680.97 pence by 0929 GMT.

Brexit uncertainties have caused jitters across the jobs market, though Robert Walters, which competes with SThree , PageGroup and Hays, says it is well prepared.

The company is not seeing jobs move out of the Britain, CEO Robert Walters said, adding that if that does happen further down the line, the company is “in all the right places”.

Walters said that if jobs move, it could be to Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg.

“We’ve been in all these places a long time and the point is we understand the local market, infrastructire and can help with that relocation should it occur,” he said.

A Reuters survey found that only 630 UK-based finance jobs had been shifted from London, a global hub for financial services, or created overseas ahead of Brexit. The survey also found that departure from the bloc without agreeing a deal with the EU could hit 5,766 jobs.

However, surveys also showed that Britain’s businesses are suffering from Brexit-related uncertainty and recruitment difficulties had mounted.

With Britain due to leave the EU next March but no agreement with the bloc yet in place, an economically disruptive “no deal” exit remains a possibility. The pound has lost about 11 percent of its value against the dollar since Britain voted to leave.

“If there is a decrease in the value of the pound ... I would expect M&A activity to increase and companies to come in and base themselves where there is a highly educated workforce,” Walters said.

The company, which makes the bulk of its earnings overseas, said that Birmingham, Manchester and Milton Keynes produced the strongest rates of net fee income growth in its home market. UK net fee income rose 4 percent.

“In London, legal recruitment was particularly active, while pockets of growth emerged in financial services,” the company said.

The UK accounted for a little more than 27 percent of net fee income in the quarter.

Chief Financial Officer Alan Bannatyne said that hiring for permanent positions in the UK was slightly ahead of temporary jobs, suggesting business confidence.

Walters said the company plans investment to expand in the Americas and Asia. ($1 = 0.7638 pounds)

Reporting by Muvija M and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and David Goodman

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