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eBay to announce stake in German Net auctioneer

With plans to expand globally, the leading auction site will take a 30 percent stake in Germany's Alando, according to an executive of a competing firm.

Globetrotting eBay Tuesday is expected to announce an investment in Germany's largest online auction, sources say.

eBay, which in recent months has made moves to take its online auction international, has called a press conference for Tuesday at Berlin-based Alando's offices.

A German source says eBay is expected to confirm its minority investment in Alando at that meeting.

"eBay has talked to nearly every online auction in Germany that has quite a [large] site," said Frank Bohmann, an executive with another German auction, Primus-Online. Bohmann said eBay is rumored to have closed a deal yesterday to buy a 30 percent stake in Alando for about $15.8 million.

eBay confirmed the press conference will be held Tuesday at Alando's offices, but would not confirm any investment. An Alando spokesman also had no comment on the news announcement.

A move into Germany would come as no surprise, since eBay management has discussed ambitions to go global. In March, eBay agreed to pay $75 million to America Online in a deal intended to help eBay expand internationally.

Earlier this year, eBay launched its own auctions in the United Kingdom and Canada. The company also has a joint venture in Australia and New Zealand with PBL Online.

"Management has been clear that there is an international extension strategy," said Lauren Levitan, BancBoston Robertson Stephens analyst who has a "buy" recommendation on eBay's stock. "Part of the international strategy would be potential joint ventures and acquisitions."