Why the Seek share price could soar today

Seek Limited (ASX: SEK) could see its share price jump today, after the company received a non-binding takeover offer for its Zhaopin business, in which it holds a 62.6% share.

Zhaopin is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, ticker code ZPIN. At last night’s close, the Zhaopin Ltd (ADR) were up 7.6% to US$16.05, with a consortium of members offering US$8.875 per Class A and B shares, and US$17.75 per ADS (American Depository Shares).

The consortium includes private equity firm Sequoia China Investment Management and senior management, including CEO Evan Sheng Guo. The bidders say that privatising Zhaopin would allow the company to invest heavily for the future without worrying about short-term gains.

Seek says it will update the market, but clearly hasn’t had much time to decide what it will do with the offer.

Zhaopin is China’s equivalent of Seek, the clear market leader in online recruitment, assessment and other human resources related services. The company delivered A$166.3 million in revenues and $38.6 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for Seek in the most recent half year. Revenue growth in constant currency was extremely strong at 19%. However, Zhaopin represents just 20% of Seek’s total group EBITDA.

It’s the second bid Seek has received from potential acquirers, with the first coming on January 20 this year from CDH V Management Company and Shanghai Goliath Investment Management L.P. although it was only for the shares that Seek did not hold.

That offer was priced at US$8.75 per share, or US$17.50 per ADR, so the new offer is only slightly higher, and is for all the shares of the company.

So far Seek has yet to respond to that proposal (3 months later), so it may be some time before it responds to the most recent one – although the inclusion of Zhaopin’s CEO and executives in the bidding consortium may speed things up.

Foolish takeaway

It’s unlikely that Seek will be all that happy with the premium on offer to sell its majority stake in Zhaopin, but the entrance of a second bidder could spark a bidding war for the Chinese recruitment company. As a shareholder, that’s what I’ll be hoping for – or for Seek to continue holding onto its share of Zhaopin for the long-term.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Seek. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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