Lamudi acquisition leaves employees high and dry
The recent acquisition of the property portal Lamudi.lk by its local competitor Lanka Property Web has left several employees in the lurch, as they have been laid off with virtually no notice and little compensation.
Releasing an official statement on 3 January, 2019, Lanka Property Web announced the acquisition of Lamudi.lk, which included Lamudi.lk domains, listings, and their local operations.
The Sunday Morning Business learnt that one-and-a-half weeks prior to shutting down its operations on 14 December, 2018, Lamudi.lk had issued warning letters to three of its employees with no evidence of any wrongdoing or ill-discipline.
These were the first-ever warning letters these employees had been issued and the letters had stated that the company could terminate their employment at any time in the period following the issuance of this letter without prior notice.
Once the employees had pointed out that termination with one warning letter was against Sri Lankan labour laws, the company had reissued the first warning letters stating there would be a second warning letter prior to termination.
We reliably learnt that Lamudi.lk had pre-planned this constructive termination as the company was searching for employees for those three positions even before issuing warning letters.
This was allegedly because terminating permanent staff and recruiting new employees on probation would make it simpler for the company to terminate their employment at the point of acquisition.
Reportedly, the acquisition took place without the consent of Lamudi.lk employees, who were informed verbally, a few days prior. The employees had been told that they would either be recruited by Lanka Property Web or given compensation.
The compensation which was offered belatedly however had been below the stipulated amounts.
The five-year-old Lamudi.lk had neither a local director nor a board and was not covered by the Department of Labour due to its employee total being below 15.
When contacted, the former Head of HR at Lamudi.lk refused to comment on this matter, saying that he had left his position in December.
The Sunday Morning Business covering both sides contacted the Lanka Property Web Founder and Managing Director Daham Gunaratna on their acquisition.
Gunaratna was unaware of Lamudi.lk’s internal operations as this acquisition was just a technical transfer.
“We don’t get involved with their operational side. That is their concern and should be considered by Lamudi itself. This is a technical transfer. We got their websites and listings. Any deals and revenues they had would be taken care of by them”, he said.
Gunaratna further added that Lamudi.lk staff members were informed about the acquisition on the day.
“They were informed on the day. We were not sure what exactly happened.”
However, according to Gunaratna, so far, two employees from Lamudi.lk were recruited to the vacant positions at Lanka Property Web and if given any opportunities he was willing to acquire the entire Lamudi.lk staff.
“We have absorbed two people where we had vacancies. We would acquire everything. We will acquire listings and domains and if there is opportunity we would acquire their staff as well.”
Gunaratna’s long-term plan is to get the Lamudi.lk listings.
“Our side will host the current listings and the Lamudi listings, and the Lamudi customers will come to our site or we will have another site set up,” he said.
Lanka Property Web which had 20,000 web listings, with the combinations of the Lamudi.lk listings, will have over 25,000 listings and over half a million visits a month.