Proposed merger of JobStreet and JobsDB gets nod from Singapore's competition watchdog

-- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB OF JOBSTREET.COM.SG
-- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB OF JOBSTREET.COM.SG

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has approved the proposed acquisition of JobStreet Singapore by the world's largest online jobs website. Australia-based Seek, through its majority-owned unit Seek Asia Investments, plans to buy JobStreet for RM1.73 billion (S$683 million).

The CCS approved the merger after Seek, among other things, agreed to divest the assets of Jobs.com.sg, including the domain name, http://www.jobs.com.sg. Jobs.com.sg is an aggregator site that aggregates recruitment advertisements listed on other online job portals.

Seek also commits to find a buyer within six calendar months. If it fails to do so, Seek commits to appointing one or more independent parties to sell the assets "at no minimum price to a purchaser."

In addition, Seek also agreed to cap prices at current levels, allowing for inflation, to address concerns that the merger could result in prices of online recruitment advertising services increasing.

It also agreed to not enter into exclusive agreements with employer and recruiter customers, in order to keep barriers to entry low and preserve competition. Employers, recruiters and jobseekers will have the choice to use other online recruitment advertising platforms.

These terms would apply for three years from the date of completion of the merger.

Among reasons cited for approving the merger, CCS noted that "the willingness of jobseekers and employers to use multiple platforms for job search and recruiting is likely to reduce any competitive advantage gained by Seek from combining the significant jobseeker, employer and recruiter databases on JobStreet's platforms, post-merger."

Seek already owns 22 per cent of JobStreet, which runs recruitment portal JobStreet Singapore.

Both companies notified the CCS of the proposed merger - the first here involving online recruitment firms - on Feb 20 as it could have competition implications.

Seek plans to combine JobStreet with JobsDB, its other majority-owned Asian online jobs business spanning Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

With the acquisition, Seek hopes to expand into Asian markets. JobStreet posts more than 150,000 advertisements a month and has a database of more than 11 million job seekers in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.