October 6, 2008 / 11:06 AM / 11 years ago

INTERVIEW-Info Edge sees rev growth slower as firms defer hiring

MUMBAI, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Internet company Info Edge (India) Ltd (INED.BO), owner of jobs classifieds site naukri.com, expects growth to slow as companies defer hiring amid falling demand, a top official said on Monday.

Info Edge’s second-quarter revenue may grow 20-25 percent, effectively bringing growth rate for the first half of the year at 28-30 percent from 55-60 percent a year ago, Chief Financial Officer Ambarish Raghuvanshi said.

India’s moderating economic growth, high interest rates and the global credit crunch have dampened business sentiment in India, leading firms to ease off on the hiring spree seen over the last couple of years, he said.

“It does seem that growth this year will be slower than last year. You have to live with a year when you are going to see relatively slower growth,” Raghuvanshi told Reuters.

Info Edge’s recruitment services, including quadrangle, which offers headhunting and recruitment services, and naukri.com bring in 87 percent of the company’s topline.

India’s economy is expected to grow at its slowest pace in four years in year to March 2009, according to a quarterly Reuters poll of 10 analysts.

“Our biggest challenge is to continue to find growth through a difficult environment in naukri.com. That is the No. 1 challenge for this company in the next 18-24 months,” he said.

Naukri.com competes with monster.com, shine.com, timesjobs.com and jobsahead.com, among others.

In FY08, the company posted a net profit of 554.87 million rupees on a revenue of almost 2.4 billion rupees.

INCREASING OFFERINGS

The company this year has diversified into an educational classifieds site, shiksha.com, besides investing in new firms offering online financial products and education content.

Its other services include matrimonial site jeevansathi.com and 99acres.com, an online realty firm.

“We will continue to look at opportunities to invest in start-ups and early-stage internet companies. We’ll be doing stuff around the classifieds space,” Raghuvanshi said.

“Most of the spaces we are entering, internet has a very low or zero penetration and therefore the scope to increase your market share and penetration is extremely high.”

Start-ups need between three and five years of investment before showing growth and breaking even, he added.

The company expects 99acres.com to double its revenue this year. The site earned 33 million rupees during the April-June quarter, up 75 percent on year, he added. (Editing by Ramya Venugopal)

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