NCO Group Inc., a debt buyer and global provider of business process outsourcing (BPO), announced Thursday the acquisition of Protocol Global Solutions Inc., a company that specializes in contact center services for the health care, energy, government and insurance markets.

Protocol, based in Sarasota, Fla., has 2,200 employees in seven locations in the U.S., Canada and Mauritius. NCO is the largest U.S. accounts receivable management company based on revenue, according to Collections & Credit Risk research.

"The acquisition of Protocol is an integral part of the repositioning of our CRM business," says Ronald A. Rittenmeyer, who became NCO's president and CEO in March (see story). "Protocol's strong presence in growth verticals as well as their experienced and proven management team will enhance our service offerings and build on NCO's leadership position in the BPO industry."

NCO on Tuesday reported a net loss of $41.2 million in the first quarter ended March 31 compared to a net loss of $15.3 million in the year-ago period. Total revenue fell 11.5% to $374.7 million, although revenue in the company's accounts receivable management unit fell just 6% to $324.1 million.

Brian Greenberg, CEO at Rockville, Md.-based Greenberg Advisors, a mergers-and-acquisitions advisory firm, commented on NCO's deal: "This transaction helps NCO better penetrate certain client segments and services in BPO and CRM [Customer Relationship Management]. By doing so, NCO gains instant access to many new clients to which it can offer a wide array of services.”

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