Korean online newspaper edaily reports that eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) is close to buying a 34 percent stake in South Korean online auction operator Gmarket Inc., which is owned by publicly traded Interpark Corp. eBay’s CEO visited the company last week and agreed to purchase the stake, though nothing official has been drawn up yet, according to the publication. If the deal happens, eBay would become the largest shareholder in Gmarket. The stake is valued at $413 million. Messages left with eBay by paidContent seeking comment on the report weren’t immediately returned.
Gmarket is eBay’s largest competitor in South Korea. According to edaily, the two companies together account for about 87 percent of the online customer-to-customer market in South Korea. News surfaced in August that the two companies were informally discussing a partnership.
eBay has had its share of operational troubles recently. Collins Stewart analyst, Sandeep Aggarwal, said in a note published this morning that a shift in product mix has caused the company to lose market share, and reports have surfaced that eBay may sell Skype back to its original founders because of difficulties integrating the peer-to-peer site into its core business