Global legal recruiter TMP Worldwide is acquiring the UK's biggest legal recruiter QD Group.
UK-based QD has operations in 10 countries and in 1999 had annual commissions and fees of £10.7m.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it is understood that TMP purchased QD for £43m, leaving founder Gareth Quarry with an estimated £40m fortune.
The QD name will be dropped, but Quarry will become global president, legal of TMP's executive resourcing division when the deal is completed in September.
Quarry says that TMP first approached QD months ago. "This was a complex decision. Eighteen months ago we didn't have the maturity in our business to make the timing right."
TMP has operations worldwide and owns the online career portal Monster.com. Its European operations have budgetary targets of $144m (£96m) in fee income for 2000.
European chief executive of the executive resourcing division Andrew Grant says: "QD is the leader in the legal market in the UK. Gareth has sound relationships with all the UK law firms but also with the US firms, which is very important."
Quarry says that being part of a global brand, particularly with e-commerce capabilities, is now essential for survival in the legal recruitment market.
"In our sector you have this wonderful battlefield of doing things the old mortar way and the new clicks way, which coincides with actual skills shortages and the end of the baby-boomers."
QD's media businesses, New City Media and JuVe magazine, have been de-merged as part of the deal.
Legal recruiter ZMB is de-merging from the Zarak Group. Sally Horrox is taking over as managing director from Joe Macrae, who will go on sabbatical but stay on the board.