On Assignment to buy Apex Systems for $600 million

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CALABASAS, Calif. (AP) ? Shares of On Assignment Inc. surged nearly 21 percent in aftermarket trading Tuesday after the company said it will buy IT staffing company Apex Systems Inc. for $600 million.

On Assignment said the acquisition will make it the nation’s second largest IT staffing firm and will boost its profits starting this year. On Assignment provides temporary workers in various skilled fields, from chemists to specialty nurses and medical writers.

On Assignment will assume all of privately held Apex Systems’ debt under the deal. On Assignment will pay for the transaction with $383 million in cash and $217 million in newly issued stock. The deal is expected to close in May, but must be approved by regulators and On Assignment’s shareholders.

On Assignment obtained a $540 million line of credit to help finance the cash portion of the deal and to pay fees and other expenses. It will use part of the new credit to pay off existing debt from both companies.

The new debt consists of a $50 million revolving credit facility and $490 million term loan, On Assignment said. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas are providing the credit facility.

Apex Systems, based in Richmond, Va., had about $700 million in revenue in 2011 and earned around $65 million before interest, taxes and other items. Apex Systems revenue has grown about 30 percent a year since 2000 and the company forecast double-digit growth in 2012.

On Assignment expects to earn between 50 and 60 cents per share during the second half of 2012, excluding transaction costs and write-offs of deferred financing expenses.

The company said revenue during the second half of the year should be between $775 million and $805 million. The company reported revenue of $597.3 million during all of 2011.

On Assignment’s IT staffing division is already an important part of its business. Revenue in its IT and engineering unit rose 31.4 percent in the fourth quarter, to $71.2 million.

Revenue in other divisions grew faster but each was a smaller piece of the business than IT. Revenue in the life sciences unit for example rose 32.5 percent to $40.9 million. The health care division’s revenue climbed 39.8 percent to $25.9 million.

On Assignment shares jumped $2.82, or 20.6 percent, to $16.50 in light aftermarket trading. It hasn’t traded in that range since 2002.

The stock fell 58 cents, or 4 percent, to close at $13.68 in the regular session. Shares have almost doubled in value since September.