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Morgan Stanley Global Private Equity sells Creative Circle

Morgan Stanley Global Private Equity (MSPE) has sold its majority interest in Creative Circle, a professional staffing firm specialising in advertising, creative and marketing talent, to On Assignment,  for USD570 million.

The deal price includes up to USD30 million in contingent consideration if certain financial performance measures are achieved in 2015. MSPE acquired a majority stake in Creative Circle from its founders in September 2012 in a transaction that valued the company at USD230 million.

When MSPE invested in Creative Circle, the investment team cited outsized demand for highly qualified creative talent driven by the rapid expansion of interactive and digital advertising and marketing. In addition, MSPE believed that Creative Circle stood poised to benefit from strong secular trends in the contingent labor market – a common theme behind MSPE’s approach to investing in businesses that solve “pain points” for small- and medium-sized businesses. For example, MSPE also had invested in EmployBridge, an Atlanta-based provider of specialty industrial staffing services, which it sold earlier this year in a successful exit.

“In Creative Circle, we found exceptional management talent and founder/owners focused on choosing the right partner for growth, and we are honoured they chose MSPE,” says Aaron Sack, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of MSPE.

“MSPE works closely with portfolio companies to evaluate organic growth and acquisition strategies, and we are proud of Creative Circle’s many successes over the course of the investment period,” says Gary Matthews, Managing Director and an Operating Partner of MSPE.

MSPE was advised on the transaction by Wells Fargo Securities and Debevoise & Plimpton.

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