ADCORP will form a partnership with Singapore-based staffing group Apba, the human resources agency announced on Tuesday.

Apba had offices in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Japan, as well as in Singapore, Adcorp said. The deal will help Adcorp expand into these countries, with the South African group gaining an option of acquiring a stake in Apba.

"The partnership exposes us to a market whose staffing industry is performing very well. The idea is that we and Apba will tender for business together. We want to list a company in Singapore in 2018 and closer to the listing we intend to buy equity in Apba," Adcorp CEO Richard Pike said.

"This strategic tie-up is an important milestone for both businesses. There is much that we can learn from each other; there are exciting cross-selling opportunities," said Mr Pike.

"Most importantly, it enables us to offer our clients unique solutions across Asia, Africa and Australia in a number of important industry sectors such as oil and gas, healthcare, infrastructure, hospitality, ICT, telecoms and manufacturing," said Mr Pike.

"Given the significant capital flows taking place between Asia, Australia and Africa, the tie-up between our two organisations provides an ideal opportunity for us to follow these investment flows with unique and targeted human capital solutions," Apba CEO Paul Ng said in Tuesday’s statement.

In recent years Adcorp has chosen to grow through acquiring businesses with expertise in specialised recruiting.

It has also rapidly scaled up its international business over the past three years, thanks mostly to buying various businesses in Australia.

The group has also invested in India and operates in 11 African countries in addition to SA. Last year, it acquired Kelly Group, another South African workforce management company.

More of Adcorp’s future acquisitions would be made abroad, as there were not many large enough local businesses left for the group to pursue, Mr Pike said.

"We bought the next big guy, Kelly Group. We watch SA’s market, but are finding a number of opportunities in emerging markets.

"Essentially we want to be a player in the southern hemisphere," Mr Pike said.

Singapore houses various multinational head offices, each with staffing needs, and English is the language of business, which also attracted Adcorp.

The most recent World Economic Forum competitiveness index, released last year, rates Singapore as the second-most competitive economy after Switzerland.

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