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eBay registers shares for acquisitions

The online auction company sets aside 10 million shares for investing in or acquiring other companies.

    eBay is building up a war chest of stock.

    The company has set aside 10 million shares to use for investing in or acquiring other companies, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. eBay paid $151,350 to register the shares, which are worth more than $600 million at the company's current stock price.

    Steve Fitzgibbons, a financial analyst who covers eBay for J.P. Morgan, called the filing "standard procedure," saying that eBay will need to have shares available when it makes an acquisition.

    "This is a company that tends to make a handful of acquisitions a year," Fitzgibbons said. "It's safe to assume that they have deals in the works."

    eBay does not have any imminent "strategic" acquisitions on the horizon, said Kevin Pursglove, spokesman for the San Jose, Calif.-based online auction company. "We were going to have to do it eventually if we were going to consider another acquisition, so we decided to (register the shares) all at once," he said.

    Earlier this month, eBay used more than 2 million of its shares to complete its purchase of European auction site iBazar.

    In February, eBay bought a majority stake in South Korea's Internet Auction company. In contrast to the iBazar deal, eBay paid for the investment with $121 million in cash.

    In recent years, the online giant has bought old-line auction house Butterfield & Butterfield, automobile auction company Kruse International and German online auction site Alando.

    Registering the shares will provide eBay the flexibility to pursue acquisitions that it is interested in, said Steve Weinstein, a financial analyst with Pacific Crest.

    "It's definitely a buyer's market right now," Weinstein said. "If you're a company like eBay, you probably see a lot of acquisition opportunities. That doesn't mean you'll act on them, but it's nice to have the flexibility to do so."