The preliminary round of bidding for South Korea’s number one job portal JobKorea is likely to start this month, with the firm seeking a valuation of enterprise value (EV) to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) multiple of about 15 times.

Sale manager Morgan Stanley is preparing to receive non-binding offers from potential buyers, industry sources said on Wednesday (December 2), with a number of groups reportedly studying the company and the asking price.

Given JobKorea’s EBITDA is expected to be about 50 billion won ($46 million) this year with almost no net borrowing, the seller is probably expecting more than 750 billion won for its EV. Some potential buyers that have not confirmed their participation in the deal are expected to make their decisions now that the firm has revealed its desired valuation.

Local online recruiting company Saramin HR, which operates Saramin, is valued at an EV/EBITDA multiple of less than 10 times. China’s recruiting platform 51job is valued at an EV/EBITDA multiple of about 13 times and Japan’s Recruit Holdings at about 12 times.

Domestic and foreign companies seeking to enter into or expand their online recruiting business are considered potential buyers of JobKorea. One question for market insiders is whether the company will be able to continue generating stable profits in the future.

“JobKorea’s market share and profitability have heightened the company’s attractiveness,” said an industry source, adding, “Investors will explore whether the company will be able to maintain its competitiveness even after the Covid-19 pandemic ends.”

JobKorea’s exact earnings figures are not known as it has been a limited liability company since 2011 and does not disclose these numbers. It is believed the firm recorded revenue of about 105 billion won and an operating profit of 46 billion won last year. Operating margin was approximately 43.9%, about 4.7% points higher than for Saramin HR (39.2%).

JobKorea’s EBITDA is estimated to have increased to 48.5 billion won at the end of 2019 from 18.5 billion won in 2013, when private equity firm H&Q first invested in the company.

H&Q will exit the company after eight years if JobKorea is sold next year. It bought a 49.9% stake in JobKorea, then owned by, for $90 million and later acquired the remaining 50.1% for 110 billion won to become the only shareholder of the company. (Reporting by Ar-rum Rho)