Skip to main content

Exponent-backed SHL announces acquisition of its third-party distributor, SHL Japan, in a public-to-private transaction

 The transaction marks one of the first mid-market P2P transactions in Japan by a foreign sponsor 

 LONDON, 2 May 2023 – SHL, a portfolio company of private equity firm Exponent, today announces it is acquiring SHL Japan in a public-to-private (‘P2P’) transaction. SHL Japan has been SHL Group's local partner for the Japanese market since 1987. The transaction is structured as a joint venture between SHL Group and Japanese recruitment specialist Mynavi and marks one of the first mid-market P2P transactions in Japan by a foreign sponsor.

SHL is a global leader in Talent Insight, which transforms businesses by leveraging the power of people, science, and technology. SHL Japan has been SHL’s partner for more than three decades and historically operated with an independent management team and shareholder structure, albeit with a close working relationship with SHL Group, and has been publicly listed since 2001.

The acquisition represents a key step in SHL’s growth journey as a SaaS-led global leader in the talent assessment market. It gives the group an unparalleled position in Asia, with leadership in each of the top three markets of Japan, India, and China, and expands SHL’s global reach, making it the only player to have established scale across each of the US, EMEA, and APAC regions. It is also the latest example in the company’s strategic evolution from a supplier of assessments for the workplace, to a talent partner providing insight from its data intelligence platform to inform decision-making across the employee lifecycle.

The transaction is SHL’s third acquisition under Exponent’s ownership and underlines the key role that international M&A has played in SHL’s growth strategy since 2018, which has undergone a SaaS transformation, including acquiring Aspiring Minds in India and partnering with IBM in North America for Kenexa Talent Assessments. The group also recently divested of US government assessment specialist PDRI to Pearson, to focus on its core B2B business. SHL Japan will benefit from access to SHL’s modern products and growth capabilities.

Exponent is experienced in working on transactions of this nature to drive transformative growth, for example on Moonpig’s acquisition of Greetz in 2018 and BBI’s acquisition of Diarect in 2020. More recently, Exponent supported Isio’s acquisition of Premier Pensions in 2022 and Deloitte’s pensions advisory business earlier this year.

John Moore, Exponent Operating Partner and Chair of SHL, commented: “The transaction is a key step in Exponent’s strategy of supporting SHL to grow and build on its position as a SaaS-led global leader in the strategically attractive talent assessment market. We have worked closely with the management teams of SHL, SHL Japan and Mynavi over the past 18 months to create a highly innovative transaction structure and one of the first ever mid-market P2P transactions in Japan by a foreign sponsor.”

Tom Lightowler, Partner at Exponent, said: "This transaction is great news for both SHL and SHL Japan. SHL's global leadership is further enhanced in the key APAC region, while SHL Japan can now access SHL's most modern products and global reach. This was a complex deal which could only be unlocked with an innovative approach and close partnership with the team. In short it has all the ingredients of a great Exponent deal."

“Companies today need an objective, data-driven view of their workforce to make better strategic decisions about their people to fuel growth and competitiveness,” said Andy Bradshaw, Chief Executive of SHL.SHL Japan is a market-leading business with fantastic people that we’ve worked alongside for more than 30 years. We are really pleased to join with them to bring more of our powerful SaaS solutions and talent insights to this important and growing market.”

 Nara Manabu, Managing Director of SHL Japan, said: “For three decades we’ve shared a philosophy, culture, and commitment with SHL to use assessment to drive great outcomes for customers. As leading companies across industries are focused on achieving growth while creating a great place to work, we’re seeing an increased demand for a broader set of tools and technologies that help leaders hire, develop and promote the right people. By joining SHL Group, we will be able to drive even more value for our customers.”