CEB Expands Its Footprint

After a bit of a lull in M&A activity, two major vendors kicked off this holiday week by announcing they will be joining forces.

Late this afternoon member-based advisory firm Corporate Executive Board Co. (NYSE: EXBD) said it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire U.K.-headquartered SHL, a leader in assessments for pre-hire and leadership assessments, for $600 million.

SHL, which purchased assessment provider PreVisor in 2011, currently has operations in Europe, Asia and the U.S.  and serves more than 10,000 clients in 111 countries.

Here’s what Tom Monahan, chairman and CEO of CEB, said about the acquisition:

 “The combination of these enterprises creates a uniquely valuable resource to help executives apply predictive analysis to the selection, development and management of talent. SHL’s established global customer base and rich talent analytics, its leadership position in corporate talent measurement and its proven business model … make it a compelling strategic and financial fit for CEB.”

Analyst Josh Bersin of Bersin & Associates (who admittedly also competes, in certain respects, with CEB) described the move as the latest in a series by CEB to become more of a data-driven provider of HR services. “It’s similar to what it did earlier in the year with its purchase of Valtera,” a workforce engagement firm.

Like it did Valtera, Bersin expected CEB to keep the SHL brand independent.

Bersin added that CEB picks up a “very profitable, high-margin business” at a time when its stock price has been struggling.