Is eBay expanding into Korea?
EBay has admitted that it has been eyeing up the Korean auction site and Internet retailer, Gmarket.
About 40% of Gmarket is owned by Seoul-based Inter Park and the brothers Lee Ki Hyeong and Lee Sang Kyoo, who founded the online store in 1999. Gmarket went public a couple years back (in 2006), and just last June, it racked up a whopping $15.4 million on fees charged from the $927.7 million worth of goods sold over the auction site.
EBay’s pending transaction with Gmarket might seem minor, but is largely strategic as the stake would be a rich opportunity to reach the market of a region where the American-owned online store had some difficulties before.
According to eBay, it is true that the company (eBay), Interpark, and Interpark’s Chairman, Ki Hyung Lee have sat down together to discuss the probability of eBay buying up enormous shares of Gmarket. It is too soon to tell what the result of the discussions will be, but a voluntary preliminary filing has been made with the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) together with seeking KFTC’s preliminary approval. At present, no word is out about KFTC’s approval. Nor is there an assurance that a final agreement will be signed. Neither the people behind Gmarket nor eBay are set to give remarks on the issue, until such time, if opportunity permits, that a definitive agreement is reached.