eBay sells off classified ads business

Norway’s Adevinta has bought eBay’s classified advertisements business to create the world’s biggest online classifieds group. 

Norway’s Adevinta has bought eBay’s classified advertisements business for $9.2bn (£7.1bn), says Michael Cogley in The Daily Telegraph – creating the world’s biggest online classifieds group. 

While Adevinta will pay $2.5bn of the purchase price in cash, the rest will come in the form of shares, making eBay Adevinta’s largest shareholder with a 44% stake. The hope is that by adding eBay Classified’s 12 brands in 13 countries to Adevinta’s 35 products in 15 countries, the Norwegian giant will be able to find savings of between $150m and $185m in “annual synergies”. The deal already seems to be paying off, say Richard Milne and Arash Massoudi in the Financial Times. Shares in Adevinta “rose by more than a third” shortly after it was announced, which for eBay lifted the paper value of the deal by “more than $2bn”. 

This vindicates eBay’s CEO, James Iannone (pictured), who convinced directors at the weekend that the American e-commerce group should “retain exposure” to the classified advertisements business instead of acceptinga slightly lower all-cash offer of $9bn from its Dutch rival Prosus.

Iannone seems to have negotiated a “good valuation” for a business that’s “slower-growing than peers”, says Liam Proud on Breakingviews. However, it’s harder to see what Adevinta gets from it. 

For instance, to achieve a 10% return on this investment, it will need to boost operating profit from last year’s $420m to $1.1bn – a big ask, “even if the pandemic boosts the number of people selling goods such as wardrobes online”.

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