Freelancer.com readying to float

Outsourcing firm rejects $US400 million bid put on the table by Japanese suitor, eyes ASX float by the end of the year.

Freelancer.com has rejected the $US400 million bid put on the table by Japanese suitor Recruit Co, with the company now preparing for a float on the Australian stock exchange by the end of the year.

According to Freelancer’s founder Matt Barrie, the company, which serves as an online marketplace for freelance work, will use the float to become “Australia's first big consumer internet company”.

In coming to this conclusion, Mr Barrie said that Freelancer.com turned down numerous offers to sell the company outside of the $400 million deal with Recruit Co that generated headlines and speculation on the firm’s future last week.

Mr Barrie declined to comment on these deals due to signing confidentiality agreements.

“Out of all the options in front of us, this [an IPO] gives the best opportunity to do this while staying masters of our own destiny,” Mr Barrie said.

He said it was the “right time” for the company to “put the pedal down on the metal” and reap in some funds to accelerate its growth.  

As for Freelancer’s call to list in Australia, Mr Barrie said that the decision was swayed by the ASX’s international standing as a capital raising exchange. He said the Australian exchange ranks number four in the world, ahead of the US-based NASDAQ, which sits at ranks number 6 on the listing.

Mr Barrie also said that this decision was motivated his own ambitions to “trail blaze” a path with Freelancer.com that other successful Australian firms can follow.

“It would be great to have an effective technology sector in this country, because we send a lot of good companies overseas,” he said.

Despite the announcement, a Freelancer.com IPO could still be thwarted by a larger deal from another company. Mr Barrie confirmed that the company will still consider offers leading up to the IPO.  

“If that happens, we will evaluate that on its merits, if and when that occurs,” he said.

Freelancer.com has hired KTM Capital to lead the float, with Mr Barrie saying the terms of the IPO will be revealed later this year.

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