What happened

Shares of 51job (NASDAQ:JOBS) were trading 11% higher as of 1:15 p.m. EDT Thursday after the Chinese job-search website revealed that Beijing-based private equity firm DCP Capital Partners had approached it with a buyout proposal.  

So what

DCP is proposing to pay $79.05 per share for 51job in a buyout valued at $5.3 billion, using a combination of cash on hand and debt financing.

Wall painting depicts a large yellow fish eating a smaller yellow fish

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Just because a proposal has been made does not mean that it will evolve into a definite offer, that such an offer will be accepted, or that regulators will permit a deal to proceed. For now, all 51job is saying is that it "plans to evaluate the Proposed Transaction" -- and does not even undertake to "provide any updates with respect to this or any other transaction" to its shareholders.

For the time being, it seems investors must accept being left in the dark. That doesn't seem to be keeping them from betting on a positive outcome, however. Indeed, with 51job shares trading in the vicinity of $79.20 early in the afternoon, they appear to be betting not only that a definite offer will be made -- but that 51job will ultimately be able to negotiate a higher buyout price for itself.