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ChinaAustralia's SEEK to split, co-founder Bassat to run investment business

ReutersNikhil NainanShruti Sonal
2 minutes read

Australia's SEEK Ltd (SEK.AX) plans to split its job listings and investments businesses and cut its stake in Chinese unit Zhaopin in a shake-up that would see co-founder Andrew Bassat give up his chief executive role.

The moves come as the debt-laden company looks to raise cash to deal with growing competition, with job listings bouncing back from a coronavirus-induced slump.

SEEK also posted a drop in half-year profits that pushed shares down 7% on Tuesday.

The stake sale comes when concerns about Zhaopin's competitive position have been raised. Brokerage Jefferies has said Zhaopin has been overtaken by Tencent-backed (0700.HK) Boss Zhipin in terms of unique and monthly users for mobile apps.

Zhaopin was in October targeted by short-seller Blue Orca for housing a lot of junk listings.

SEEK said on Tuesday it was in advanced talks with a consortium of investors to reduce its stake in Zhaopin to 23.5% from 61%, valuing the Chinese company at A$2.2 billion.

The Australian company, which had A$1.7 billion ($1.34 billion) in debt at the end of last quarter, said it expects net proceeds of A$560 million from the sale.

Jefferies said it was "disappointed" with the price tag for Zhaopin, which was 45% lower than its valuation.

With Bassat moving to run the investment business, the company promoted operations head and former Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AX) boss Ian Narev as its chief executive.

Narev left CBA in 2018 after almost seven years, during which the country's biggest lender was embroiled in a money-laundering scandal. CBA said his departure was not related to this.

($1 = 1.2636 Australian dollars)

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