Australia’s Seek, Hillhouse Capital & FountainVest in talks to buy out Chinese jobs site Zhaopin

Australian jobs website Seek Ltd said it is in talks to buy billionaire casino boss James Packer’s stake in a Chinese subsidiary, in a deal which would further reduce Packer’s investment exposure to China.

In a stock market filing on Friday, Sydney-listed Seek said it is in talks about buying shares in Beijing-based, New York-listed Zhaopin Ltd that it doesn’t already own for $18 per share, which, according to Reuters calculations, works out to $209 million.

Seek, the world’s biggest stand-alone listed jobs website, currently owns about 75 percent of Zhaopin, while an investment vehicle of Packer has two-thirds of the rest, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The move pushed Seek‘s shares 5.7 percent higher, their best intraday gain in a year, to a near five-month peak, while the broader S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent.

Taking full control of Zhaopin would boost Seek‘s exposure to China’s job market, while keeping the option to spin it off, said Mathan Somasundarum, a strategist at broker Blue Ocean Equities.

“If they hold it, they’re holding something that’s potentially going to do well (and) if they do decide to at some point float it, that’s one everyone will jump to get into,” he said.

Seek didn’t offer an explanation for the move, but said it and private equity firms Hillhouse Capital Group and FountainVest Partners are “in advanced discussions with a special committee of the board of Zhaopin” about taking the company private.

While Seek has been expanding overseas, Packer has been cutting back his offshore investments, in China in particular, since the authorities there arrested 18 of his Crown Resorts Ltd casino staff in October amid a gambling crackdown.

In December, Crown cancelled a spin-off listing of its offshore casinos and said it was instead selling down its stake in the Chinese gambling hub Macau.

Zhaopin, which Seek partially sold in a listing in 2013, said in a separate statement that it was discussing the potential deal but was uncertain if the parties would reach an agreement.

Also Read: Chinese recruitment platform Zhaopin rallies on Sequoia-backed bid of more than $1.1b

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.