Chinese tech jobs site Lagou plans US listing as demand for AI talent soars

Announcement followed US$120 million investment from 51jobs Inc, China’s biggest jobs search site

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 September, 2017, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 September, 2017, 10:47pm

Lagou, one of China’s biggest technology recruitment websites, said it plans to launch an initial public offering in the US in 2019 amid surging demand for talent in fields like artificial intelligence (AI).

It made the announcement on Friday after receiving a US$120 million investment from 51jobs Inc, the mainland’s most popular jobs search site. Lagou said the cash injection had expedited its listing plans, but has not provided further information about the proposed stock flotation.

The recruiter, which has 14 million registered users in China, has said previously that demand for jobs in the country’s AI sector increased fivefold in the first six months of this year as “intelligent manufacturing”, particularly in car production, has grown rapidly.

In a statement on Friday, Nasdaq-listed 51job said it has entered into an agreement with Lagou to acquire a 60 per cent stake in the company for US$119 million in cash.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017.

“Combining Lagou’s targeted strengths in the technology vertical with 51job’s extensive sales resources and large user base, we are excited about opportunities to enhance the recruitment experience and improve hiring effectiveness in this important industry segment,” said Rick Yan, president and CEO of 51job, in the statement.

Lagou said separately in a statement that its business operation will remain independent and that the investment had accelerated its plan to list its shares.

“We expect the synergy of the two companies to accelerate Lagou’s revenue growth, helping it meet the requirements for listing earlier than expected,” the statement said.

A spokesperson from 51job said the company “supports Lagou’s IPO plan”.

“Lagou has particular strengths in hi-tech talent recruitment and related human resources services. Its corporate and individual users are concentrated in the hi-tech area, which is a resource our company values,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, Ma Delong, chief executive of Lagou, said the fastest growth in job demand had come from the AI sector as demand for professionals in the sector surged by four times in the first six months of 2017.

Data from the company showed the most popular technology and engineering jobs on are related to product design, software and app development, Ma said.