Posted tagged ‘ExcellerateHRO’

M&A Activity in Benefits Administration: Round 2

March 12, 2012

Following the benefits administration merger and acquisition (M&A) frenzy of 2010 that resulted in some major consolidations including Aon Hewitt, Towers Watson, Xerox/ACS and ExcellerateHRO, to name a few, are we poised to see round 2?

The second wave actually began in early 2011 and tends to consist of the more established providers, in their own right, acquiring Tier 2 health and welfare (H&W) administration companies in the U.S.  Examples include:

  • Towers Watson acquiring Aliquant in January 2011
  • Sedgwick, a leader in the leave of absence administration market with ~20% market share, acquiring the productivity solutions unit of Nationwide Better Health in May 2011
  • Morneau Shepell, the leading total benefits outsourcing (TBO) provider in Canada, acquiring SBC Systems Company in January 2012.

As of last week, we can now add ADP to this list since it signed a definitive agreement to acquire SHPS Human Resource Solutions—a subsidiary of SHPS, Inc. ADP has actually been making key acquisitions to strengthen components within its benefits administration offering for the last 18 months. It started with Workscape, which added compensation management services, and was followed by Asparity Decision Solutions for decision support tools and analytic capabilities.

Now, the SHPS acquisition strengthens ADP’s leave administration and reimbursement account administration offerings. The HSA and HRA components will be especially important considering the rising cost of health-care and the transition toward high-deductible health plans paired with these health savings accounts.

The H&W acquisition trend is also expanding beyond the U.S. It started in September 2010, when Capita – a U.K.-based HRO vendor providing total retirement outsourcing (TRO) exclusively in the U.K. – acquired FirstAssist Services Holdings for £12.5m. Then it continued when Mercer acquired REPCA – a brokering and advising firm for health and benefits (H&B) plans – to strengthen its H&B administration offering and advisory services in France.

The remaining question on my mind is whether U.S.-based TRO providers such as ING, Great-West, T. Rowe Price, etc. plan to jump on the H&W acquisition bandwagon to provide a one-stop shop for benefits administration like Fidelity Investments.

I’m eager to see who will make the next M&A move in benefits administration.  In the meantime, it’s always fun to hear about cross-selling opportunities that resulted in contract scope expansions.  Stay tuned.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

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First Year+ Strong for ACS, a Xerox Company

September 9, 2011

With a year and a half passing since Xerox acquired ACS, Xerox has appropriately defined its new tagline: “Services-Led, Technology-Driven” with revenues roughly split equally between its Services segment and its Technology segment. Of Xerox Services, BPO is leading, accounting for 55% of revenues. The remainder of its Services revenue is ITO (12%) and DO (32%).

Within BPO, its four segments are HR, F&A, customer care, and transaction processing. Focusing on HR specifically, ACS is doing well according to information shared at yesterday’s Industry Analyst Meeting in NYC.  In total, the company has secured 44 HR services deals in the past 18 months.  Its first HRO deal since the acquisition was closed was a 5 year H&W services contract with P&G in March 2010.  

Some recent HRO highlights include signing a long-term TBO contract with a wireless telecommunications company, winning its largest ever learning services contract with a pharmaceutical company, and leveraging the ACS and Xerox relationship to win a multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO) contract from a competitor. 

Serving more than 11m employees and retirees worldwide, the company is focused on “consumer-driven solutions” or viewing the client employee as the end-consumer.  Part of this initiative includes its client collaboration group, FutureThink, which began piloting last year and has recently expanded. 

Its plans for geographic expansion are ripening.  The company has made great progress with its first target, Europe, with revenues increasing 10% and pipeline growth up more than 100%.  Approximately 90% of this pipeline improvement is the result of Xerox synergy.  Another positive is a recent MPHRO win from this region. 

Aside from Europe, ACS is targeting Latin America, specifically Brazil and Mexico, and Asia.  In Latin America, the company has a good market presence due to its acquisition of ExcellerateHRO last year. 

Additional acquisitions and partnerships can’t be ruled out either, especially for building out service capabilities.  Finally, to support all this growth, ACS has made investments in CRM, expanding its India and Malaysia centers.

Eighteen months since the acquisition has closed, Xerox has demonstrated a successful integration of ACS and signs are pointing to a positive future for HR services.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Learning Services Acquisition Frenzy

March 17, 2011

Last year, we wrote quite a bit about all of the M&A activity in benefits administration including:

  • Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt completing its merger to become Towers Watson
  • ACS, a Xerox Company acquiring ExcellerateHRO
  • ADP acquiring Workscape
  • Aon acquiring Hewitt to become Aon Hewitt
  • Other acquisitions made by vendors including Mercer, Xafinity, and Capita.

Will learning be the next HR service area abundant in acquisitions?  Although we have seen learning services acquisitions in the past, including ACS acquiring Intellinex in 2006, and will likely continue to see more in the future, I don’t believe we will see any in learning that are equivalent in scale to the large benefits acquisitions.  However, if there was an award for the number of acquisitions in a short period of time, it would have to go to General Physics Corporation (GP). On March 10th, GP acquired RWD Technologies for $28m, its 8th acquisition in the past 18 months.  RWD is based in the U.S. near GP in Baltimore and has three additional U.S. locations as well as offices in the U.K. and Colombia.

GP got RWD at a bargain since RWD’s consulting revenues were $65m in 2010.  RWD was hit hard by the recession and GP came along at the right time with cash on hand.  As a result of the acquisition, GP inherits RWD’s IT learning expertise, where it had little prior experience.  The acquisition also strengthens GP in the petroleum, manufacturing, and automotive sectors.

Last month, GP acquired Communication Consulting to expand delivery of its training services in China.  GP’s other acquisitions were made in the U.S. and U.K. between September 2009 and December 2010.

GP’s 2010 revenues were $259.9m, an increase of 18.6% compared to 2009.  Growth was attributed to increased volumes from existing clients, new contract awards, and its acquisitions, which had the greatest impact.

Moving forward, what will happen?  Well for one thing, don’t count GP out from making future acquisitions.  GP still has ~$35m in revolving credit after the RWD deal and has stated that they will continue to seek acquisitions to grow globally.  However, with so many acquisitions, GP now faces the challenge of creating an integrated client experience and cross-selling into the strengths of these acquired companies to continue its rapid pace of growth.

It will be interesting to watch as things unfold this year.  In the meantime, we can finally put to rest the question “what’s happening with RWD”.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

HRO is Never Static or Still

October 12, 2010

During every stage of the economic lifecycle, HRO service providers are doing something to either anticipate or react to changes in the marketplace and client needs while simultaneously striving to achieve strategic goals. This week I wrap-up NelsonHall’s review of 3Q 2010 HRO activity with a look at what’s new in offerings, partnerships and acquisitions.

One way to quickly expand a service line or fill-in gaps is to partner with a provider that is already offering the service or operating in the target geography. Last quarter was most active for RPO. Those announcing new RPO-related partnerships included Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS), Kelly Services, Kenexa, Pinstripe and The RightThing. Notably, two of the partnerships were to continue to expand RPO services internationally in the Asia Pacific region, with AMS adding reach into India and Kelly in Vietnam.

A more committed path to rounding out or adding new services is to buy it. Making small to large acquisitions is another constant in the world of HRO as players define and redefine their portfolios. In addition to the close of the three game changing major acquisitions in the benefits community (ADP/Workscape, ACS/ExcellerateHRO, and Aon/Hewitt), other folks were also making deals. For example, Mercer acquired IPA and ORC, and Xafinity bought PwC’s pension consulting and administration business in the U.K. Further, Randstad continued its acquisitive ways, this time outside of Europe, with its planned acquisition of FujiStaff in Japan.

Health and welfare (H&W) outsourcing used to be limited to the U.S., and that will remain the major market. But no matter how health insurance and care is funded, H&W concerns are growing globally. In the U.S., Fidelity is partnering with RedBrick Health to offer its clients wellness services, and in the U.K., Capita is acquiring FirstAssist Services to add to its health service offerings.

Finally, if you cannot find what you want in the marketplace, you can build or expand it yourself. Ceridian wants to truly offer a new line of BPO services and has announced it is ready to consult, build and manage the health insurance exchanges that some states will need in a couple of years as part of the U.S. health care reform program. 

Most announcements of “new offerings” are incremental additions. For example, Hewitt is adding Micromedex medical reference information to its advocacy service offering. You can also simply package what you have and call it new. Aditro has done that with a standardized set of payroll services that include preset services levels and implementation process to make a lower cost bundled option.

Yet another variation blends supply chain partnerships with building it yourself to make a new service offering. Take a SaaS HR service from Oracle or Sap and wrap in value added enhancements and services additions and, voila, you have a new HRO service platform. Mercer introduced its Human Capital Direct that uses PeopleClick Authoria’s talent management suite as the core, surrounded by Mercer’s consulting, tools and methodologies such as decision support, competency models and analytics.

In HRO, somebody is always doing something. What have you done lately?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Recapping the Not-so-Dog-Days of HRO’s 2010 Summer

October 5, 2010

One of the biggest HRO stories of 2010 will be the flurry of big and small acquisitions in the benefits administration space. The three big acquisitions – ACS and ExcellerateHRO, ADP and Workscape, and Aon and Hewitt – have recently closed.

As acquisition mania played out, many HRO deals were getting done, and this week, as the weather has finally, thankfully, started to cool, I’m taking a look at some of the deal activity over the long hot summer.

There were not a lot of announced deals in benefits administration, but a Hewitt summary indicates plenty of activity was still quietly going on. Hewitt won new awards across the span of benefits administration in the large and mid-market, including several in defined benefits and defined contributions. But the greatest activity was in health and welfare, and for point solutions like dependant audits and flex spend accounts.

While not necessarily matching North America in total contract value, the U.K. and Europe were also quite active in HRO. Logica was awarded a £10m payroll and pensions HRO contract extention by U.K’s Metropolitan Police, with new scope this time around including increases in employee and manager self services and electronic pay slips. And Midland HR won a deal for its iTrent HR platform including HR administration, employee and manager self-service, payroll, talent management and workforce planning.

In RPO, CPH won a contract with Opal Telephone, and Alexander Mann was awarded  a contract for recruitment and contingent labor by Cobhan. On the continent, HRO activity included HR administration and payroll deals by Reat and HR Access in the mid-market.

ADP parlayed existing payroll services for KAO, a Japan-based consumer products manafacturer, into extended HR administration and payroll services across Asia Pacific including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. In addition, ADP won a global managed payroll services contract with BT that will cover more than 40 countries in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific when fully implemented.

It was refreshing to see a spate of learning contract awards won by Expertus, General Physics, Intrepid and The Learning Associates. However, as most of the learning outsourcing activity was in the public sector, we still need to see more of an uptick in the private sector before we can say learning is fully on the road to recovery.

RPO maintained its lead position as the most active single service area, with the greatest increase in revenues and new contracts. RPO activity was highest in the U.S., followed by the U.K., and was spread nicely across providers including Alexander Mann, CPH, Kelly Services, Manpower, PeopleScout and SourceRight. Several of the awards were for contingent labor or combined RPO, with the contingent labor focuses indicating that employers are still cautious about a full return to permanent hires.

There were no announcements of the HRO mega-deals of yore, but it was very nice to see the increased activity levels across many HRO service lines and service providers. Now that the cooler weather of fall is here, we’ll  hopefully see an even more serious return to getting business done before the end of the year!

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Anatomy of the Deal – Managing the HRO Service Provider Portfolio

June 3, 2010

A sign of economic recovery is preparation for the future and a return to investing in growth and expansion over cost cutting and containment. A purchase may be the fastest way to growth for HRO service providers, if the price is right and the risks manageable. And the first half of 2010 has been busier with large and small mergers and acquisitions in the HRO universe than with major new client deals. 

Today let’s take a look at the similar strategic criteria I see that cross several recent HRO acquisitions: footprint, portfolio, profile, talent and technology.

Footprint – expand into new geographies by buying an established “local” player. NorthgateArinso just closed on its purchase of Convergys, greatly expanding its footprint in the U.S., the world’s largest HRO market. It also purchased Neller, an Australian-based payroll provider to increase its global payroll coverage in the Asia Pacific region.

Portfolio – what services should you offer? Acquisition for portfolio management is seen as part of the ACS purchase of ExcellerateHRO (EHRO) from Hewlett Packard. According to ACS Managing Director Rohail Kahn, ACS intends to be a top industry leader in each of its lines of businesses. ACS will add to its heft as a benefits administrative player with the addition of EHRO, which was a strong benefits admin provider going back to its start with Towers Perrin.

Rounding out a service line is also a reason cited in recent acquisitions. Hewitt’s purchase of HRAdvance adds strength to its growing dependant audit services as part of its point solution offerings within its larger benefits admin portfolio.

Profile –marquee “logos” and major clients adds scale and is a common reason for M&A activity, but it is one that requires a clear head and due diligence. Last year Empyrean Benefits announced it was going to acquire the benefits unit of ING. A few months later the deal fell apart when it became clear to Empyrean that several major clients were already on the way out the door. The closing of the Convergys deal is a sign that NorthgateArinso felt a good sense of security that enough of the major clients will stay and give NorthgateArinso a chance. ACS also mentioned a stable client base as one of the advantages of the EHRO deal.

Talent and Technology – both can be an important consideration in purchase decisions. Praise for the leadership and talent base of the acquired company is practically a requirement in the M&A communications handbook. It is another thing to determine if it is true in action as well as words. Another common reason for M&A’s is synergy, i.e., reducing operating expenses by eliminating duplication and overlaps.

Technology can be the point of, or a problem rather than a benefit, in some M&A’s. In the case of Hewitt, it will adopt HRAdvance’s technology platform, which was a criteria it was seeking in an acquisition. 

More often, that which cannot be profitably and practically integrated must be separately maintained or clients migrated. Either way, the time, cost and effort must be factored into the financials and risk management of the deal.

2010’s HRO service provider deals have good bones and clear intentions, may they all grow hale and hearty for themselves and their clients!

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

It’s a Pac-Man World in HRO – ACS Buys ExcellerateHRO from HP

May 26, 2010

Google celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Pac-Man, one of the most successful and long lasting video arcade games, by putting the game on its home page. Created by Namco in Japan, the license to Pac-Man was bought by Atari, the biggest name in early gaming. And Atari hit big time with Pac-Man, selling a then outstanding seven million games. Unfortunately, it manufactured twelve million copies of the game. Success in the early stages of an emerging market is not always the path to long term success.

ACS, a Xerox Company, just announced it is acquiring ExcellerateHRO (EHRO) from HP, ending the rampant industry speculations, including those from NelsonHall, on who might want EHRO.  Almost from the start there was conjecture that EHRO was not a strategic fit with HP, which maintains focus on computing and IT-related services. (Try finding any references to EHRO services on the HP website.)

EDS acquired EHRO for around $400 million. Now being sold for an estimated $125 million in cash, EHRO now joins Exult – which was purchased by Hewitt in 2004 – and Convergys – which is in the process of being acquired by NorthgateArinso for ~$85 million –  as early HRO providers chomped by industry consolidation. 

Exult flew the highest first, literally helping birth the comprehensive HRO industry. Exult rapidly won a large book of large clients in the first generation of lift and shift deals that took over management of clients’ HR processes in place of complex ERP and legacy systems. But once the exhilaration of creation and big deal fever passed, it turned out to be a hard way to make money. Hewitt quickly learned this after its acquisition of Exult. In fact, given the major money lost by the early players year after year, it is amazing that the game is still alive and being played by a stronger, albeit smaller, field of service providers.

A shakeout and consolidation is not unusual in the early stages of industry development, especially when tempting bargains are there to be found. Just as the HRO industry was finding its way through the maze to a new level of services fueled by newer technologies and lower cost service delivery networks, the worldwide recession gobbled up growth and cornered hard won margins, leading to the availability of several of the early leaders at discount prices.

The question was, who was hungry enough to bite? NorthgateArinso wanted into the U.S. market in a bigger way and it is snapping up Convergys to do so. ACS is also hungry in its own way. Already a first tier player, it wants to be even bigger in segments such as benefits administration.

ACS has already spent more than $20 million on upgrading and enhancing its services and platform for benefits, and has been on an aggressive campaign to win share in benefits administration. And what could be even more enhancing than a shiny new acquisition? With the support of Xerox and the addition of EHRO’s assets, ACS will be significantly increasing its market share in corporate relocation services and benefits administration, especially in pension administration and health and welfare outsourcing.

Pac-Man survives thirty years. Long live Pac-Man. Long live HRO.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall