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O'Brien and Buckley sell China jobs site to Nasdaq-listed rival




Steve Humphreys

Leslie Buckley

Leslie Buckley

Damien Eagers



Denis O'Brien and long-term business partner Leslie Buckley have sold their on-line recruitment company ChinaHR.

The move means the two businessmen have now pulled out of the Chinese market after more than a decade and ended their investment in online recruitment everywhere bar Myanmar.

China HR was sold to Nasdaq-listed 58.com last week for an undisclosed sum. Buckley, who was chairman of ChinaHR, owned 25pc while Denis O'Brien owned the rest.

58.com, which has often been described as a Chinese Craigslist-like platform, is an acquisitive company that aims to become the biggest online recruiter in the Chinese market. It spent $1.6bn (€1.42bn) last month to buy a 43pc stake in rival Ganji.com.

58.com said on its website last week that it plans to continue running ChinaHR.com independently under the same brand. ChinaHR targets middle market employees while 58.com's other websites are aimed at the upper and lower end of the market.

Private equity firms Warburg Pincus, SAIF Partners, and DCM all hold stakes in 58.com which is valued at around $7bn.

O'Brien and Buckley have invested in dozens of online recruitment sites over the years. Their Saongroup bought ChinaHR for around $30m in 2013 from Monster Worldwide.

O'Brien, who is also the largest shareholder in the owner of this newspaper, and Buckley, who is the chairman, sold most of their previous online recruitment companies to Stepstone in 2013. The operations stretched from Europe to the Caribbean, South America and South Africa.

China is a "long, long way away," Buckley said, when asked why he sold ChinaHR.

The recruitment company has market leading sites in 157 cities. Buckley said the sale followed unsolicited approaches from several parties.

"It's a great company with very talented staff," he added. Buckley said much of the success of ChinaHR belonged to Maria Mahon, who first joined forces with O'Brien and Buckley when they made their first foray into online recruitment in Ireland more than a decade ago.

58.com chief executive Jinbo Yao said he plans to keep China HR's "professional teams" following the sale.

"With the brand effect of China HR in the middle and higher end job market, we hope to expand our boundaries and realise a full cover of the recruiting service business," Yao told Chinese media on Friday.

"As the most visited recruiting site, 58 will also support China HR from all perspectives, especially in marketing, product and network traffic, and present everyone with an even better China HR in the future."

Founded in 1997, China HR was the first online recruiting website to target the middle and higher end job market in China. Its services include campus recruiting, head hunting, recruiting process outsourcing and online recruiting.

Sunday Indo Business