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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Japanese recruitment company Persol Holdings Co Ltd (2181.T) has made a A$778 million ($600 million) takeover bid for Australian recruiter Programmed Maintenance Services Ltd (PRG.AX), the target company said on Friday.
The deal, unanimously recommended to shareholders by the Programmed Maintenance board, would continue consolidation of Australia's recruitment sector, following previous acquisitions by Programmed itself and by Japan's Recruit Holdings Co (6098.T).
"The Programmed board believes that Persol will be a well-capitalized, supportive owner of Programmed if the scheme proceeds," Chairman Bruce Brook said in a statement to the Australian securities exchange.
Programmed shares soared 68 percent to the bid price of A$3.02, a 13-month high, when they began trading on Friday, suggesting the market believes the deal will proceed.
"The share price has been higher in days gone by, but I think it's reasonable considering the risks and rewards of not accepting something like this. It is reasonably well balanced," said Simon Mawhinney, chief investment officer at fund manager Allan Gray, Programmed's biggest shareholder.
The bid follows Programmed's own acquisition of smaller rival Skilled as well as Recruit Holdings' purchase of both Chandler Macleod group and Peoplebank Holdings in 2015.
Perth-based Programmed provides staffing and facilities management in Australia and New Zealand and Tokyo-based Persol operates similar businesses across the Asia-Pacific.
Persol said in a statement it was looking to leverage Programmed Maintenance's strengths in Australia and New Zealand as part of its expansion plans in the region.
Programmed's Chief Executive Officer Chris Sutherland and other senior management committed to continue in the business should the takeover succeed.
Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY and Sam Nussey in TOKYO; Editing by Stephen Coates