Australia's job website Freelancer opts for local IPO

SYDNEY, Sept 18 Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:56am EDT

SYDNEY, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Online jobs portal Freelancer.com is planning an initial public offering in Australia this year after knocking back several attempts to buy it, including a $400 million approach from Japanese recruitment firm Recruit Holdings Co.

Freelancer would be capitalising on a buoyant local IPO market and a local listing would help boost Australia's fast-growing tech sector at the expense of Nasdaq, where software firm Atlassian is expected to list.

"We think the Australian stock market is a great market to go to... Tech companies, in my opinion, are trading at a premium to the U.S.," Freelancer chief executive Matt Barrie, who owns 50 percent of the business, told Reuters.

Investment fund Startive Capital owns another 42 percent of Freelancer, while unnamed investors hold the rest.

Barrie declined to comment on a potential valuation for the IPO, as the company is in a blackout period until it files its prospectus. The company has engaged Sydney-based KTM Capital Pty Ltd as broker and underwriter for the listing.

Freelancer matches employers and freelancers around the world through its website for tasks such as data entry, design and accounting. So far, it has had almost nine million users, with almost five million projects posted.

Barrie declined to comment on individual approaches, but a source had earlier said Recruit Holdings was one of the suitors.

"It's really early days in the space for us, so I think it would be too early for us to sell the business at this point in time," said Barrie, adding the company had looked at term sheets from venture capitalists, approaches from private equity players and banks as well as offers to sell the whole business.

"I think there is going to be a global market place for services there's such a long way to go in this space, we want to go out there and capture more of the territory," he added.

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