4c Executive Search Acquires Ireland-based MSL

April 20, 2017 – There’s been more than a recent wave in M&A activity among executive search firms throughout Europe. The most recent: Belfast-based 4c Executive Search has acquired MSL Search & Selection in Northern Ireland. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Originating in London in 1955, MSL has been synonymous with executive recruitment in the U.K. and Ireland for half a century. The firm provides executive recruitment services to an extensive portfolio of private, public and third sector organizations. MSL will now been subsumed into the 4c brand, with former managing director Ian Rainey set to remain involved in the business in a non-executive director capacity.

The acquisition was the next stage in 4c’s ambitious growth strategy, said founder and managing director Gary Irvine. “4c has enjoyed steady but significant growth over the past three years and, to date, has been appointed to find the best available talent for over 150 senior level, business critical roles in Northern Ireland and the U.K.,” he said.


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Having already expanded significantly in the past 12 months through the launch of a number of new divisions within its business, this opportunity to purchase MSL – one of Northern Ireland’s oldest and most-established executive recruitment providers – is viewed by Mr. Irvine as “the next step in our ambitious growth strategy. Going forward, I believe that this puts 4c in an exceptionally strong place, firmly cementing our position as the leading – and now the largest – provider of true executive search services in Northern Ireland.”

In “Safe Hands”

Mr. Rainey brings with him long standing industry knowledge and a vast network of connections and experience not only from MSL, but from a number of previous senior roles in the international legal and banking sectors, and as a former managing director of Belfast International Airport and chairman of Belfast City Airport.

“I am confident that 4c’s clients and our growing team of employees will benefit greatly from Ian’s insight and wisdom, and that he will make an important contribution to the continued growth and success of the 4c business in the coming months and years,” said Mr. Rainey. He also said the acquisition would enable him to pursue other opportunities and gradually move towards retirement, while ensuring that the MSL business would be in “safe hands” as he described it.

“Gary has built a very solid, successful business in 4c and I have been extremely impressed with everything I have seen of the firm in recent years,” he said. “The 4c offering is truly unique in Northern Ireland, with the team following a very clever, methodical and scientific model that brings the very best results for the client. Their strategic approach to the use of external researchers is unmatched here and means that the vast majority of roles undertaken by 4c will be filled through search in the truest sense of the word.”

“Gary and I have already begun meeting with MSL’s loyal and long-established client base, who have welcomed news of this acquisition and have committed to working with 4c going forward,” Mr. Rainey added. “I believe they will quickly recognize the unrivaled depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that this joining of forces brings, together with the unparalleled innovation, energy and professionalism that 4c’s growing team of search consultants, researchers and business support staff offer.”

Ireland has a modern knowledge economy, focusing on services and high-tech industries and dependent on trade, industry and investment. The country’s famous drinks industry employs approximately 92,000 people and contributes billions annually to the Irish economy, making it one of its biggest sectors. It supports jobs in agriculture, distilling and brewing. But a growing financial services sector base is also important, employing some 35,000 people and contributing billions in taxes annually to the Irish economy. Ireland is, in fact, the seventh largest provider of wholesale financial services in Europe.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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