SK Telecom, Shinsegae Group among bidders for eBay's Korean business: sources

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s SK Telecom, retailer Shinsegae Group and private equity firm MBK Partners were among those that entered non-binding, preliminary bids for the sale of eBay Inc’s South Korean business, the telecom company and two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

EBay Korea operates open market e-commerce platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9, and was South Korea’s third-largest e-commerce firm in 2020 with 12.8% market share, according to Euromonitor.

The sources declined to be identified as not authorised to talk to media. MBK Partners, Shinsegae Group and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Seoul-based analysts said that eBay hopes to fetch up to 5 trillion won (S4.42 billion) with the sale.

However, they said the actual sale price may be lower, due to its recent drop in market share compared to rivals such as Korea’s No. 1 e-commerce firm Coupang, and disadvantages of the unit’s traditional “open market” form of e-commerce which simply connects sellers with buyers.

EBay Korea’s market share has been overtaken in recent years by Coupang, which directly handles inventory, differentiated itself with speedy delivery and raised around $4.6 billion in a blockbuster New York listing earlier this month, as well as Naver Corp, which operates South Korea’s dominant online search portal.

EBay Korea’s 2020 revenue was estimated to be about 1.3 trillion won, with a 5.3% on-year increase in transactions, compared to a 19% growth in South Korean e-commerce market, KTB Investment & Securities analyst Kim Jin-woo said.

Reporting by Joyce Lee, editing by Louise Heavens