Japan job site operator valued at $2.3bn in IPO

Nikkei -- Apr 23
A Japanese operator of a jobs website was valued at 249 billion yen ($2.3 billion) in its trading debut on Thursday, a sign of how investors are betting that Japanese companies will break away from the tradition of hiring employees for their entire careers.

Shares of Visional, which began trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers market, closed at 7,000 yen each, 40% above its offering price.

The company, which owns the executive job matching site Bizreach, raised 10 billion yen ($92 million) in the initial public offering with existing shareholders selling another 56 billion yen worth of shares. An unusually high 89% of shares offered were allotted to foreign investors.

Launched in 2009, Bizreach focuses on what it calls high-class talent -- business executives or professionals with specialized skills. The category was once considered a niche, because Japan is known for lifetime employment, a system in which a worker commits to the company for the rest of his or her career. That meant most companies invested heavily in recruiting new graduates, a market dominated by two players, Recruit and Mynavi.

But the industry has grown in recent years as startups and companies have increasingly embraced outside talent to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment.

Bizreach said it has more than 6,600 active corporate users and 1.2 million registered individuals as of January.

"The professional recruitment market has grown by 50% in the last four years. Still, only 2.5% of [Japan's] 35 million full time employees changed their jobs in the past year," Visional founder and CEO Soichiro Minami said in a news conference on Thursday.

- Nikkei