CEO spotlight – SEEK’s Andrew Bassat

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Key points

  • SEEK is the number one brand when people think jobs, with 76% unprompted awareness compared to 38% of its nearest competitor.
  • Focuses for this year will be the Placement Strategy, the Learning division and international operations.


Andrew Bassat

Years in role

Co-founded the company in 1997

Interim earnings:

  • Underling revenue up 17% on first half last year to $395.3 million.
  • EBITDA up 18% to $168.5 million
  • NPAT excluding significant items up 9% to $94.1 million.

What is the company’s competitive advantage?

SEEK’s competitive advantage lies in its ability to connect hirers and job seekers. SEEK has more unique and relevant job opportunities and the largest pool on candidates. It is the number one brand when people think jobs, with 76% unprompted awareness (versus. 38% of our nearest competitor). Through our Placement Strategy, we continue to evolve our product and service offerings to better facilitate the matching of jobseekers to hirers.

SEEK’s international division offers significant competitive advantage as we operate market leading (number one or number two positions) organisations that collectively expose the Group to over 2.9 billion people and greater than 20 % Global GDP, providing a large platform for future growth.

What are the company’s plans for the year ahead?

In November 2014, SEEK successfully completed the acquisition of JobStreet. We are now focused on the integration of this business with JobsDB, which will open up great opportunity for the Group across South East Asia.

Locally, we continue to reinvest into our Placement Strategy, which is building momentum in the market. We have grown candidate profiles 54% to circa 5 million and currently lead placements in Australia at circa 22%; the next nearest competitor is 1%. For us, placements are a critical measure of success as it demonstrates the value we’re providing by connecting candidates to hirers and hirers to candidates.

We remain focused on continuing to support our international businesses in their operating models and deliver further value to market.

Our Learning division continues to perform well and we continue to explore growth opportunities, particularly offshore.

What is the company’s growth strategy?

At a high level, SEEK always invests with a long-term outlook. At a divisional level, there are different growth strategies.

The Placement Strategy offers significant growth prospects for employment; opening up new product and service offerings to the market and increased value to hirers and candidates.

In addition to this, the continual migration of job advertisements from print to online, along with the benefits of a cyclical uplift, represent strong growth opportunities.

Internationally, SEEK has a successful track record of investing in early stage markets with large growth potential. Zhaopin is a great example of how we’ve started small and worked closely with the local management teams to deliver on a solid growth strategy. We apply this approach across all our early stage markets and it continues to put us in a good position to realise opportunity into the medium to long term.

The education arm of SEEK offers growth opportunities through extending this offering into our international markets. We have early stage education businesses in Brazil and OCC, with Asia and China a key priority moving forward. Swinburne Online, which is a joint venture with Swinburne University, also has strong growth prospects through increased market penetration and the addition of new courses.

Do you have global growth plans?

Since our investment into China in 2007, SEEK has continuously looked globally for opportunities to add value and deliver shareholder return. SEEK now operates across 14 markets with exposure to over 2.9 billion people and greater than 20% global GDP.

We are focused on working closely with the management teams in the international businesses and sharing our intellectual property to support each business’ growth. We are also exploring how to take our successful education model into overseas markets, particularly Asia.

What is your dividend strategy (payout ratio/franking etc.), and how much will you be returning to shareholders this year?

SEEK has a dividend payout policy of 40% to 70% of cash NPAT, and currently the payout ratio is 50% of cash NPAT.

SEEK’s strong cash flows and balance sheet mean it’s well positioned to either return or deploy capital to drive shareholder returns.

Seek (SEK)

Source: Yahoo!7 Finance, 19 February 2015

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