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Blackstone Stalks Oil Recruiter

(c) Sky News 2012

Blackstone (NYSE: BX - news) , the private equity group which owns Hilton Hotels and Butterkist popcorn, is stalking a Manchester (Frankfurt: A0ETDJ - news) -based company that specialises in recruiting engineers in the oil and gas sector.

Sky News understands that Blackstone is one of several prospective bidders examining a takeover of NES Global Talent, which is expected to be sold for about £200m and which would land big cash windfalls for dozens of its employees.

Omers, which manages the retirement funds of thousands of public sector workers in Ontario, Canada, is another of the parties which has signalled its interest in buying NES.

The auction of the company, which is being handled by bankers at Baird, reflects the appetite of financial investors to buy specialist recruitment firms in industries which continue to demonstrate robust growth.

NES, which is headquartered in Altrincham, was bought by Graphite Capital, another private equity firm, in 2006 for £70m, since when it has more than doubled its sales and profit. It also recruits staff in industries such as pharmaceuticals and rail.

Its (Euronext: ALITS.NX - news) rapid growth has attracted the attention of Blackstone, which usually focuses on much larger deals.

On Thursday, New York (Frankfurt: A0DKRK - news) -listed Blackstone reported a sharp decline in second-quarter earnings, prompted by the troubles of many of the economies in which it operates and sliding asset valuations.

Blackstone declined to comment.