Retail giants in last-minute preparations on eve of bidding for eBay Korea

SEOUL-- Big-name bidders are believed to be carefully weighing how much to offer on the eve of bidding for eBay Korea, South Korea's no. 3 retail behemoth, as the deal is expected to bring a seismic change to the local retail industry, industry sources said Sunday.

Most of the preliminary bidders are expected to attend the bidding Monday, including South Korea's No. 1 mobile carrier, SK Telecom Co.; retail giant Lotte Group, discount store franchise E-Mart; and MBK Partners, private equity firm and largest shareholder of discount store chain Homeplus, retail market observers said.

A consortium by multiple bidders is also a possibility, they said, amid rumors that E-Mart and online portal operator Naver could join hands as they strengthened their business ties in March through a 250 billion-won (US$221 million) share swap.

The eBay Korea deal has drawn keen attention from the retail industry ever since the company first announced the M&A deal in January this year. The Monday bidding marks the second attempt by eBay Korea, with the first having fallen through in mid-May as the company anticipated a higher price.

EBay Korea is known to be hoping for at least 5 trillion won for the deal, while bidders think the bottom price is too high, considering the coronavirus-hit economic environment and the potential extra costs after the deal.

"EBay Korea may be tempting for its ample experience and profitability, but 5 trillion won may be an overreach," an informed retail industry source said.

EBay is the No. 2 e-commerce player in the United States with about 11 percent of its revenue coming from South Korea. Its Korean unit, eBay Korea, takes up about 12 percent of South Korea's e-commerce market after Naver's 18 percent and Coupang Inc.'s 13 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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