Online job listings giant Seek has touted a potential sell-off of its Chinese business amid revelations the company has appointed a new top boss.
The Melbourne-based company on Tuesday announced that chief executive Andrew Bassat would be replaced by former Commonwealth Bank boss Ian Narev, effective July 1.
Mr Bassat, who co-founded SeekK 23 years ago, will take on the new role of executive chairman of Seek Investment after the group’s decision to split its Asia-Pacific and American (AP&A) operating business and investment arm into separate entities.
Mr Narev joined Seek as its chief operating officer in November 2020. He was ousted as CBA’s chief executive following public revelations of money laundering occurring at the country’s largest banking institution.
Mr Bassat will remain a director of Seek’s operational business.
Seek chairman Graham Goldsmith said Mr Narev had a strong track record in digitally overhauling large public companies.
“He brings a strong track record in digital transformation, strategy and public company leadership,” he said. “During the last two years, Ian has led Seek in partnership with Andrew and has had a tremendous impact in advancing the AP&A growth strategy.”
Mr Goldsmith also noted splitting the two core businesses would provide better opportunities for shareholder returns.
“A more independent Seek will resemble a pure operating business,” he said. “AP&A’s core operating performance will be the cornerstone of the company. Seek will have greater capital flexibility for reinvestment in AP&A and for dividends.”
Seek also updated shareholders of its intention to sell off its Chinese business Zhaopin to Beijing Wangpin Consulting Co Ltd for a book value of $2.2bn.
The intended transaction would reduce Seek’s stake in Zhaopin to 23.5 per cent.
In its interim results, the company posted an 8 per cent decline in net profit after tax for the first half of the current financial year to $67.7m, while revenue slumped 7 per cent to $826m.
The company attributed the decline to the jobs markets still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic; however, it recorded a strong rebound in new listings for small businesses within Australia and New Zealand.
At December 31, 2020, the company’s net debt position was $904.5m. It also did not declare an interim dividend for shareholders.