eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) wants to acquire more companies in Asia, particularly in Japan and Singapore, CEO John Donahoe said this morning. He also confirmed that eBay has has offered to buy all the common shares of Gmarket, Korea's largest peer-to-peer e-commerce company, for $1.2 billion. Donahoe said buying Gmarket made sense because it would allow eBay to list items simultaneously on both platforms and use their combined size to negotiate better fees with credit-card companies. He also said it would act as a base for further expansion in the region, with its founder and CEO Ki Hyung Lee spearheading the process. Korea is the sixth-largest ecommerce market in the world and is expected to grow about 13 percent annually through 2013. eBay has about $3.2 billion in cash to make acquisitions, so can move quickly if it finds the right deal.
The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the company was expanding its international presence (which now accounts for about half its revenue) by creating "hubs" for specific countries in their native language. eBay also has a roughly 20 percent stake in leading South American e-commerce company MercadoLibre. But Donahoe said on the call that it would continue to hold only a minority stake in that company (rather than try to buy it outright, a la Gmarket) because South America is a young, unproven market.
By Rory Maher