eBay Enters Three New International Markets

Further solidifying its international foothold in the online auction market, Internet giant eBay announced Thursday that it has launched new Web sites in Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland.

According to the San Jose, California-based company, the expansions will enable it to penetrate regional markets with aminimal investment in technology.

eBay said that the new services incorporate the functionality of eBay’s existing European and U.S. operations, while also featuring locally listed items that are up for auction. The company plans to use the sites to promote its online marketplace to new audiences in those regions.

eBay also said that the stepped-up regional access will smooth the shipping process for buyers and sellers, because goods would not have to be transported across national borders.

For now, trading will only be conducted in currencies currently available throughout its network, but eBay said that users can finalize payments in any currency they choose.

The Internet auction powerhouse has said that it aims to be in 10 countries by the end of this year and 25 countries by the end of 2005.

Globe Trotting

Although a flurry of dot-coms have floundered in recent months, eBay has continued to bolster its position in the burgeoning Internet auction market. According to industry analysts, Europe is an especially key online battleground since its e-commerce growth rates are poised to explode.

eBay began mounting its expansion plans in 1999, opening country-specific sites in the UK and Canada. Since then, it has accelerated its strategy by launching services in Germany, Austria, Japan, Australia, Italy and Korea.

During the fourth quarter, eBay reported that its European marketplaces generated over US$137 million in gross merchandise sales.

Striking a Deal

eBay’s entry into Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland comes one month after the company inked a deal to purchase European online auctioneer iBazar S.A. The all-stock acquisition, estimated to be worth up to $112 million, is expected to close during the second quarter of this year.

Based in Paris, France, iBazar hosts online auction sites in eight countries — Belgium, Brazil, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden — and has 2.4 million users.

In addition to fueling its push into the continent, eBay’s buyout of iBazar will render it a considerable foe for homegrown rivals such as the popular QXL Ricardo Plc, which conducts consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer auctions across 13 Western European countries.

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