Randstad Holding NV agreed to pay $429 million for jobs site Monster Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: MWW), one of the first e-commerce companies to go public in the 1990s at the dawn of the Internet era. Randstad will acquire Weston, Massachusetts-based Monster for $3.40 a share in cash, the companies said in a statement.
The sale marks the end of the road for a pioneer in Internet commerce. Monster went public in December 1996 when it was an advertising agency known as TMP Worldwide that placed ads in telephone directories. The company at the time touted a newer business, The Monster Board, an online jobs listing. The stock peaked on a split-adjusted basis at more than $86 a share at the height of the Internet bubble in March 2000, valuing the company at almost $8.4 billion.
Founder Andrew McKelvey left the company in 2006 amid an investigation into the backdating of stock options for executives. He died in 2008. The company’s general counsel pleaded guilty in the case and the chief operating officer was convicted in a criminal trial.
Monster, which will continue to operate as a separate entity under its own name, is the latest survivor from the early crop of Internet companies to get acquired. Verizon Inc. last year bought the former America Online for $4.4 billion, while the same buyer agreed in July to purchase the web assets of Yahoo Inc. for $4.83 billion. Among other Internet high-flyers from the 1990s, Ebay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY), which went public in 1998, and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), which held its IPO in 1997, are still publicly traded companies.
For staffing provider Randstad, the purchase will bolster its position in the U.S., a country the Amsterdam-based company has been targeting for years. The acquisition will immediately add to earnings per share, it said. The buyer plans to begin a tender offer, and aims to complete the transaction in the fourth quarter.
Monster has long been seen as a takeover target. The company began exploring a possible sale in 2012 under a previous chief executive officer after losing business to sites such as LinkedIn Corp. The stock traded above $10 a share in March that year as the company sought a buyer, though a deal never materialized. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) agreed to buy LinkedIn earlier in 2016.
Randstad’s acquisitions in the past nine months will add about 2 billion euros on an annualized basis to revenue, the company said, and it will now slow the pace of purchases to focus on integration. Acquisitions will be limited in the medium term to about 100 million euros, it said.
Wells Fargo Securities (NYSE: WFC) advised Randstad, and Jones Day served as legal counsel. Bankers from Evercore Group LLC worked with Monster, which used Dechert LLP as legal counsel.
Monster reported a second-quarter loss Tuesday of $124.2 million, or $1.40 a share, compared with a loss of $1 million, or 2 cents, a year earlier. Sales slumped 10 percent to $150.9 million.