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(LEAD) Naver drops out of bid to buy stake in eBay Korea

Industry 15:58 June 22, 2021

(ATTN: RECASTS lead, 2nd para; ADDS more details in paras 4, 6, 10)

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- Naver Corp., South Korea's top internet portal operator, said Tuesday it has decided not to join in the acquisition of eBay Korea, leaving retail giant Shinsegae Group as the sole bidder for the South Korean unit of the U.S. e-commerce giant.

Last week, a consortium comprised of Shinsegae and Naver had been reportedly chosen as the preferred bidder to take over eBay Korea, beating out local rival Lotte Shopping.

The online portal giant said in a regulatory filing that although it had considered buying a partial stake in eBay Korea to strengthen its business, it ultimately decided against taking part in the acquisition process.

Naver did not elaborate on why it decided to drop out although market watchers had expected the takeover deal to face strict regulatory hurdles.

EBay Korea's office in southern Seoul is shown in this photo taken June 17, 2021. (Yonhap)

Naver is a major player in South Korea's e-commerce market with an 18 percent share, compared with eBay Korea's 12 percent and rival Coupang Inc.'s 13 percent.

The move leaves Shinsegage as the sole bidder for eBay Korea, and the company has been reportedly working on detailed terms of the deal.

E-Mart Inc., a discount store chain under Shinsegae Group, has reportedly offered 3.5 trillion won (US$3.1 billion) for an 80 percent stake in eBay Korea, but the U.S. parent is seeking a higher price.

The acquisition of eBay Korea would give a much-needed boost to Shinsegae, which holds around 3 percent of the country's e-commerce market, and brings about a seismic shift in the local sector.

EBay Korea operates e-commerce platforms Gmarket and Auction in South Korea, and the company's revenue reached 1.3 trillion won last year.

Naver had been expected to take part in the acquisition process with Shinsegae Group after they signed a 250 billion-won share swap deal in March.

Shares in Naver slid 1.51 percent to 391,000 won, underperforming the broader KOSPI's 0.71 percent gain. Shares in E-Mart rose 0.63 percent to 160,500 won.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
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