Monster Worldwide to fade away; Randstad completing acquisition

31 Oct 2016

In the end, all of the drama about the acquisition of Monster Worldwide by Randstad Holding ended with a whimper.

Monster and Randstad announced this morning (Monday) that the transaction will be finalized today, and the company’s stock (NYSE: MWW) will be taken off the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow.

It was close, though.

Only about 51.5 percent of the company’s shares were directly tendered under Randstad’s $3.40 offer for the stock. When the sale was completed the company had a market capitalization of about $300 million U.S.; at one point, it had a market cap of almost 20 times that amount, or $5.5 billion.

(Here’s today’s announcement by Randstad and Monster.)

Founded by HR supplier Jeff Taylor, Monster became one of the earliest online job boards in 1994 when it launched as TheMonsterBoard.com, carrying job listings that Taylor’s company was also placing as newspaper ads. It became Monster.com in 1999, while it was owned by TMP Worldwide, a yellow pages advertising company that merged TheMonsterBoard with OCC.com, or Online Career Center, the world’s first internet recruitment site.

What went wrong? Lots and lots of things, but especially, in two words, Sal Iannuzzi. He became chairman and CEO in April 2007. By the time he left on November 4, 2014, the company’s stock price had dropped more than 90 percent and market cap by 93 percent. When his departure was announced, the stock price immediately jumped 12 percent.

Iannuzzi took over at a tough time in the company’s history — shortly before former chairman / CEO Andy McKelvey, the architect of Monster’s growth and initial public offering, pleaded guilty to stock fraud charges. McKelvey escaped a prison sentence because he was terminally ill; he died in November 2008.

The company has lurched from crisis to crisis and business model to business model, most recently moving from paid listings to aggregation. Once the traffic leader among job sites in the U.S., it was surpassed by CareerBuilder and later by Indeed.com, and it sold off or rationalized many of its international properties — most of which have performed poorly. Even Monster-India, once a very strong competitor in the marketplace, has diminished in stature as Naukri.com has grown and new competitors like QuikrJobs and BabaJob have grown.

Randstad (AMS: RAND), a global staffing company with more than 4,500 offices worldwide, announced plans to acquire Monster on Aug. 9. The plan ran into opposition less than two weeks later from the owners of MediaNews Group, which described itself as the largest holder of MWW stock.

MediaNews later made a half-hearted offer to buy Monster shares at $3.70, almost a 10 percent premium on the Randstad offer, but it clearly didn’t work to drive up the price or convince shareholders that they’d ultimately get a better offer. (More of our coverage here and here.)

In today’s news release, Randstad said the acquisition would be immediately accretive to its earnings, and reiterated that Monster would continue to operate independently under its own brand name.

Through this combination we are able to accelerate our digital strategy and our ability to serve our customers and candidates with transformational ‘Tech and Touch’ services,” said Jacques van den Broek, Randstad CEO. “With Monster’s easy to use digital, social and mobile solutions and Randstad’s global network, we now have the ability to create comprehensive and technologically advanced capabilities for human resources services in a global job market defined by rapid technological change.

Monster CEO Tim Yates, who took over from Iannuzzi, said:

Joining Randstad provides Monster with the opportunity to grow as a formidable industry leader, building the most sophisticated global platform of talent data, services and tools for connecting jobs and people. We are excited to begin Monster’s next chapter and accelerate our transformation.

For more about the ups and downs of Monster, see this Wikipedia article.

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Peter M. Zollman

Peter M. Zollman brings more than 35 years of media experience to his role as founding principal of the AIM Group / Classified Intelligence Report. He has worked with a wide range of media companies, dot-coms, technology providers and start-ups to develop and expand successful interactive-media services. He is based in Altamonte Springs, Fla., near Orlando.