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CVC, TPG, MBK, Affinity Equity in final bidding for JobKorea

Feb 22, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)


Local and foreign private equity firms are among the final bidders for the entire stake of South Korea’s top recruitment portal JobKorea – a deal estimated at as much as 1 trillion won ($897 million).

According to the investment banking industry on Feb. 22, CVC Capital Partners, TPG Capital, MBK Partners and Affinity Equity Partners have made their final bids for the stake, currently held by Korea-based private equity fund H&Q.

Morgan Stanley is managing the stake sale.

H&Q and Morgan Stanley plan to choose a preferred negotiator in early March.

The sellers said in December of last year that they received preliminary bids from about 10 interested parties, mostly PEFs, including Hong Kong-based PAG, Permira and US-based TA Associates.

STRATEGIC BIDDER SEEK LIKELY TO FORM A CONSORTIUM

Australia’s largest job site SEEK, the only strategic bidder among the initially shortlisted potential buyers, did not submit its final bid for the Korean online job platform.

Sources said SEEK is in discussions with one of the final bidders to form a consortium instead.

The Melbourne-based company is looking to enter the Korean market after successfully expanding its presence into 18 countries, including New Zealand, China, Brazil and Mexico. SEEK has forayed into those markets by teaming up with financial investors and derives over half of its revenue from overseas markets.

H&Q acquired 100% of JobKorea for a total of 205 billion won between 2013 and 2015 from Monster Worldwide Inc., a US-based job listing service and the parent of the largest US job portal Monster.com. H&Q has already pocketed most of its investment money through dividend income.

H&Q put its entire stake up for sale in November after JobKorea fared surprisingly well in the first half of 2020, despite the coronavirus spread. It posted around a 10% year-on-year increase in EBITDA in the first six months to June.

The seller initially hoped to fetch some 700 billion won, over three times its purchasing price, but the final price tag could rise to as much as 1 trillion won, according to industry officials.

JobKorea CEO Yoon Byung-jun

GROWING ONLINE RECRUITMENT MARKET

The top recruitment portal operates two platforms: JobKorea, for full-time job listings and Albamon, for part-time listings.

JobKorea holds a 40% share in Korea’s full-time job listing market, double the market share of the industry’s No. 2 player Saramin. In the part-time job listing market, Albamon dominates with a 60% share.

Growth in South Korea’s online recruitment market is expected to gain momentum as the country’s big conglomerates such as Hyundai and SK are doing away with the traditional massive hiring system that recruited workers once or twice a year on a regular basis.

They are now switching to a frequent recruitment system, or hiring whenever there’s a need.

Write to Chae-Yeon Kim at Why29@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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