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SK Tel, Shinsegae, Lotte, MBK make the cut in eBay Korea deal

By Mar 29, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

SK Tel, Shinsegae, Lotte, MBK make the cut in eBay Korea deal 
Four out of the five preliminary bidders for eBay Korea, including SK Telecom Co. and MBK Partners, have made the cut in the deal estimated at around 5 trillion won ($4.4 billion). 

South Korea's two retail giants -- Shinsegae and Lotte groups -- were among the four shortlisted buyers, while the other non-binding bidder Qoo10, a Singapore-based e-commerce startup, failed to make it to the final round, according to investment banking sources on Mar. 29.

The four shortlisted participants are understood to have offered over 4 trillion won for the entire stake in eBay Inc.'s South Korean operations that run the country's two popular shopping platforms -- Gmarket and Auction -- as well as a curated shopping platform, G9.

They will carry out due diligence before submitting final bids. Considering the typical eight-week due diligence period, the outcome of the deal will likely emerge after May.

All the four shortlisted bidders are determined to acquire eBay Korea, taking the acquisition as the only opportunity to jump to the sector's top position in the near term.

The acquisition deal for eBay Korea is likely to accelerate a shake-up in the country's retail landscape, with deep-pocketed No. 2 player Coupang Corp. gearing up for aggressive expansion following its spectacular New York listing earlier this month. 

Last year, eBay Korea reported a 35% year-on-year jump in operating profit to 83 billion won with a 20% rise in revenue to 1.2 trillion won, with around 17 trillion won in gross merchandise value, or the total value of products traded on its platforms.  

It ranks third with a market share of 12%, after the country's online behemoth Naver Corp.'s 17% and Coupang Corp's 13%.

The market focus is now on whether Kakao Corp., the mobile messenger app operator, will make a last-minute bid in the final round, despite its dropping out of the preliminary round.

When it comes to the only financial investor MBK Partners, market speculation was that it could join forces with SK Telecom for the eBay Korea bid, but they have not entered talks in that regard, according to industry sources.
 
Write to Jun-ho Cha at chacha@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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