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Sold to eBay: Dutch Classified Site

eBay has acquired a popular online classifieds Web site in the Netherlands, the company said Wednesday.

The San Jose, Calif.-based digital trading post said it has purchased Marktplaats.nl from Het Goed Beheer, a Dutch company that owns second-hand retail shops. The deal is valued at EUR 225 million in cash, or approximately USD$290 million.

eBay said it plans to continue to operate Marktplaats.nl as a separate business and allow the company to grow through additional investments. In exchange, eBay will be able to expand its e-commerce position in the Netherlands while adding to its growing knowledge of classifieds-style trading.

"Marktplaats.nl has enjoyed tremendous success in the Netherlands," Bill Cobb, senior vice president of eBay International said in a statement. "Learning from each other, we can strengthen both platforms and provide Dutch consumers with even better trading opportunities."

Founded in 1999 and based in Emmeloord, Marktplaats.nl boasts more than one million listings at any given time. The company offers a venue where buyers and sellers can meet to trade a wide array of items, from clothing and collectibles to cars and household items. The acquisition is part of eBay's goal of extending its global footprint and bringing its overseas sites onto the main technology platform.

This is not the first time eBay has jumped into the barter and trade business. As early as 1998, the company had established several regional sites to appeal to trade-eager customers that might usually head for the local newspaper's classified ads.

eBay has also made headway with its classified business thanks in part to a $50 million acquisition of India's Bazee.com. eBay also bought a minority stake in Craigslist, the popular online trading site that lets users find anything from jobs to event tickets to dates.

Before that, eBay closed a buyout deal for German auto classifieds site mobile.de for $149 million, and it shelled out a total of $180 million to scoop up China-based e-commerce play EachNet.

The Netherlands is expected to be just as profitable for eBay. The B2C/e-commerce sector in the Netherlands is estimated to reach $5 billion in 2004, and that number is expected to grow to more than $15 billion in 2007, according to IT research firm IDC's Internet Commerce Market Model that was published earlier this year.

"Marktplaats.nl is a great match with eBay Netherlands," said Josh Silverman, country manager of eBay Netherlands. "Together, we can help consumers get the most out of e-commerce no matter which format they choose."

Of eBay's twelve billion-dollar categories, Automotive once again far surpassed the others, delivering $10.7 billion for its last quarter. The next highest-performing category --Consumer Electronics -- brought in $2.5 billion, the company said in its recent quarterly financial report.

eBay said the acquisition should not have an impact on its 2004 or 2005 net revenue and earnings per share, nor does the company expect the acquisition to affect eBay's financial guidance for the last quarter of the year.