May 22, 2002 10:50 PM PDT

Yahoo concedes Europe auctions to eBay

Yahoo will close five of its auction sites in Europe and instead promote eBay's competing auctions as part of an agreement the companies announced Wednesday.

Within the next several weeks, Yahoo will stop accepting new listings for its auction sites that serve France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Additionally, it will close its auction site that serves the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company will promote eBay's sites for each of those countries via banner ads and text links.

"This is an outstanding move for Yahoo Europe, both strategically and financially," Mark Opzoomer, managing director of Yahoo Europe, said in a statement. "We will be able to better utilize our resources to more effectively focus on initiatives where we can extend our leadership position and that will drive long-term growth for the company."

In the statement, an eBay representative said the agreement would help promote eBay to new customers. Yahoo and eBay representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Yahoo and eBay did not disclose the financial details of their deal, saying only that it was a multiyear agreement. The agreement will not affect Yahoo's other auction sites, including its auction site in Denmark, the companies said.

eBay has had mixed results with its overseas efforts. Its international sites account for more than 20 percent of the company's revenue, and the growth of listings and revenue from its German, U.K. and Canadian sites have balanced slowing growth in the United States.

But eBay stumbled badly in Japan, finally exiting the market earlier this year after being unable to dent Yahoo's early lead there. Meanwhile, eBay saw its listings on its French site plummet by more than 80 percent after it introduced listing fees on the site. The company later reduced its fees, but listings have yet to fully rebound.

Yahoo has had its own struggles with auctions. The company's U.S. auction site was once seen as eBay's biggest threat. But that threat dissipated when listings on the site fell by more than 80 percent after Yahoo introduced fees on its auction site early last year. Although Yahoo has since changed its fee structure and revamped its whole shopping area, its auction site has never recovered, and its listings are a fraction of eBay's.

Last month Yahoo laid off some of its staff in the United States and Canada as part of a reorganization of its auction and other commerce sites.

Yahoo has been hard hit by the downturn in advertising. With losses mounting, the company has been trying to cut costs and broaden its revenue base. The company cut 400 jobs last fall.

Meanwhile, it has introduced a slew of paid services. This month for instance, Yahoo launched a new Internet access service with SBC Communications.

 

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