SAN FRANCISCO — Online help-wanted site HotJobs.com Monday gave Monster.com’s owner 72 hours to top a $436 million takeover bid from Yahoo! Inc., setting the stage for a bidding war between rival suitors that run two of the Web’s most popular destinations.
New York-based HotJobs told Monster.com’s parent, TMP Worldwide Inc., that it will call off their six-month-old merger agreement unless TMP can beat an unsolicited $10.50-per-share bid made by Sunnyvale-based Yahoo less than two weeks ago.
HotJobs set a 9 a.m. EST Thursday deadline for TMP to improve its all-stock offer, which was valued at $9.11 per share based on TMP’s closing price Monday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
If TMP doesn’t sweeten the pot, HotJobs said it will enter into formal negotiations with Yahoo. Jilting TMP would cost HotJobs $17 million to cover a merger termination fee and other expenses during the six-month courtship.
TMP will respond to HotJobs’ ultimatum “at an appropriate time,” spokesman David Rosa said.
Industry analysts have anticipated a bidding war for HotJobs since Yahoo unexpectedly entered the fray with its Dec. 12 bid.
Investors are betting that HotJobs will be sold for more than Yahoo’s stock-and-cash offer of $10.50 per share. HotJobs’ shares gained 26 cents to close at $10.73 Monday on the Nasdaq. TMP climbed 40 cents to close at $41.50 and Yahoo fell 27 cents to close at $16.65.
Yahoo’s pursuit of HotJobs caught some analysts off guard because the site ranks a distant second to Monster.com in the online recruitment market. HotJobs has a database of about 5 million resumes while Monster.com has 14 million resumes.
The HotJobs bid is part of Yahoo’s effort to rebound from a yearlong financial slump through the addition more revenue-generating features at its popular Web portal.
HotJobs charges employers and recruiters to list job openings and collects fees for access to its resume database. The company also sells human resources software.
Like many other dot-coms, HotJobs remains unprofitable. Through the first nine months of the year, HotJobs lost $21.2 million on revenue of $92.6 million.
Yahoo runs the third most popular Web site behind AOL and Microsoft, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. Monster.com ranked 39th in the Jupiter Media Metrix’s latest rating.
Although it’s not as well known as Yahoo, TMP Worldwide is the larger company with $1.1 billion in revenue through the first nine months of the year. Yahoo generated $528.5 million in revenue during the same period.
As of Sept. 30, Yahoo had $346.1 million in cash versus TMP’s $317.6 million.
On The Net: