Seek co-founder Andrew Bassat is stepping down as CEO, replaced by Ian Narev

- February 23, 2021 2 MIN READ
The Seek team back in the 1990s
Andrew Bassat will step down as MD and CEO of Seek, the online jobs site he co-foundered with his brother, Paul, at the end of the financial year, with former CBA boss Ian Narev taking over from July 1.

Narev joined seek as COO and chief executive of its Asia Pacific and Americas division in 2019.

Bassat has led the company he co-founded in 1997 for more than two decades. He is also president of the St Kilda Football Club. He will become Executive Chairman and CEO of Seek Investments and remain a director of Seek (ASX: SEK).

“It has been an incredible privilege to be the CEO of Seek. I have worked alongside so many terrific people over the past 23 years with a shared passion for our purpose,” Bassat said.

“We have built a company that I am very proud of. The Seek journey is just starting and my passion for the company and its people is as strong as ever. But now is the right time for a new leader for the next stage. And Ian Narev is the right leader.

“I look forward to remaining on the Board under the leadership of Graham Goldsmith and continuing to work closely with Ian. I am also excited to focus more of my energy assisting the businesses in the Investments portfolio reach their full potent.”

News of the C-suite changes – the retirement of CFO Geoff Roberts was made last month – came in the company’s half-year results to December 2020, released today.

In the half-year ended 31 December 2020, Seek’s sales revenue declined 6% on the H1 FY19 to $819.1 million, and EBITDA declined 1% to $245.9m compared to the previous year, although on a constant currency basis, it rose 1%.

Reported profit was $69.7 million, a fall of 8%, which includes losses from Seek Investments ESVs (Early Stage Ventures) of $22.4m (2019: $25.3m). The company says the drop was mainly due to increased depreciation and amortisation arising from investment in product & technology.

In its statement to the ASX Seek said the Board believes Seek Asia Pacific & Americas (“AP&A”) and SEEK Investments (“Investments”) can benefit from a greater degree of independence and focus, hence the move for Bassat.

The company is also looking to offload a large stake of its 61% holding in its Chinese arm, Zhaopin, at a valuation of A$2.2 billion. Sales revenue from Zhaopin fell 10% to $376.2 million in the half. Short sellers had accused Zhaopin of faking job listings to prop up its growth, a claim denied by Seek.

Seek said it is in advanced talks on the sale, which will see its three-year-old stake reduced to around 23.5%.

The company did not declare an interim dividend, but subject to the Zhaopin deal going through, will look at paying one at the end of FY21. Seek also increased its revenue guidance to $1.7 billion for FY21, with EBITDA upped from $404m to $460m.