Thu, Feb 16, 2006 - Page 10 News List

104 Job Bank ready for IPO launch

EXPANSION PLANS The company wants to raise NT$37.5 million to fund its merger and acquisition plans in China as it attempts to establish a foothold across the Taiwan Strait


The 104 Job Bank (104人力銀行), the nation's largest job portal, will launch its initial public offering (IPO) tomorrow to finance expansion, its founder said yesterday.

This will make the company, which is currently trading on the gray market, the first online human resource firm to list on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

Through the IPO, 104 Job Bank will sell 3.75 million new shares at NT$95 apiece, to raise NT$37.5 million (US$1.16 million).

"For the next few years, we will aggressively seek mergers and acquisitions either locally or overseas, to improve our business portfolio," founder and chairman Rocky Yang (楊基寬) told investors yesterday at a pre-IPO conference.

The company plans to beef up its human resources solutions and promote them to enterprises of all sizes, and to help job seekers not only land jobs but with long-term career life planning, he said.

To this end, the company will expand its foothold across the Taiwan Strait in the first half of the year.

"This is the perfect time for us to enter the China market," Yang said.

Around 70 percent of Chinese enterprises are recruiting staff through newspaper ads, which was what was happening in Taiwan five years ago, he said.

This in turn presents opportunities for online recruitment portals such as 104 Job Bank, which has already garnered nearly 90 percent of the local market, he said.

104 Job Bank will set its sights on smaller portals in China for merger possibilities, as attempts to approach the top-five Chinese online job portals -- including (中華英才網) -- proved unsuccessful due to high share prices, Yang said.

Expanding into the massive Chinese market is an inevitable trend, as the company aims to offer more comprehensive recruitment services to Taiwanese job seekers who might seek careers there, Yang said.

The company will set up an office in Shanghai in April, he said, although he refused to disclose more details due to confidentiality.

To handle its expansion plans, the company will increase its staff from 460 to more than 500 this year.

Analysts appear positive about 104 Job Bank's IPO.

"Its share prices are set to increase as the stake is very concentrated. It will benefit from the new stock exchange's new mechanism, which abolishes the 7 percent daily trading limit on the share prices of listed companies for the first five days of trading," one analyst said on condition of anonymity.

104 Job Bank's earnings last year reached NT$290 million, or NT$9.69 per share, up from NT$249 million, or NT$10.68, a year ago, according to the company.

Fuhwa Securities Co (復華證券), which is in charge of the IPO, estimated that the company will post 40 percent earnings growth to reach NT$409 million this year, or NT$12.11 in earnings per share.

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