Chinese jobs site operator Zhaopin Ltd. (NYSE: ZPIN) announced on April 6 that it had entered into a definitive agreement and plan of merger with Australian-based, global recruitment group Seek International Investments (ASX: SEK), the current controlling shareholder of the company.

The website is one of the most popular job sites in China, with about 37 million job postings in the year to June, 2016.

The agreement will privatise Zhaopin by delisting it from the New York Stock Exchange – a transaction which is expected to be completed in the second half of 2017, Seek said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) on April 7.

Seek will partner with two China-focused private equity firms, Hillhouse Capital Management and FountainVest Partners, to acquire all outstanding shares of Zhaopin, which listed on the NYSE in mid-2014. Seek and its private equity partners will buy the outstanding Zhaopin shares for $18.20 U.S. in cash per American depositary share (ADS), or $9.10 U.S. per ordinary share.

The deal values Zhaopin at $1.01 billion U.S..

Seek, which currently owns 61.2 percent of the shares in Zhaopin with 74.5 percent of the votes, will retain its stake in the privatised business. The offer price represents a 14.2 percent premium to the closing price of Zhaopin’s ADS on February 16, when the group first announced discussions around the potential deal.

The ADS last traded at $17.74 on the NYSE on April 6.

The agreement comes about 15 months after Zhaopin first received a proposal from a buyer group comprising of CDH V Management Company and Shanghai Goliath Investment Management.

A second proposal was received in May 2016 from a consortium comprising executives of Zhaopin, and Sequoia China Investment Management.

Andrew Bassat, CEO and co-founder of Seek, said: “I am pleased to announce further progress on the Zhaopin privatisation. We are very excited to be partnering with leading Chinese private equity investors Hillhouse and FountainVest, who each has a strong track record of success in China.

“We believe that the combination of the strong management team led by Evan Guo Sheng, Hillhouse, FountainVest and Seek will position Zhaopin for long-term success.”

Ronnie Fink, Seek’s corporate development director, said: “Seek has undertaken an extremely comprehensive and diligent process to find the best partners to support Zhaopin’s growth aspirations. We look forward to working with world-class partners in Hillhouse and FountainVest.”

As we reported on March 21, the privatisation has been resisted by a number of Zhaopin’s shareholders, who were holding out for a better deal.

For more details, look here.

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