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eBay to sell classic car unit

The online auction giant plans to sell off Kruse International, a collector car company it bought three years ago.

eBay plans to sell off Kruse International, a collector car auction company it bought three years ago.

eBay notified Kruse employees of its plans to sell the business on Wednesday, company spokesman Kevin Pursglove said. eBay determined that Kruse would be better matched with an owner that dealt with a traditional offline business, Pursglove said.

"We decided to focus our strategic energies on our online marketplace and that is what we do best," he said.

Although it is one of the most successful online companies, eBay has been selling or shutting down a series of businesses over the past year. In August, the company sold traditional auction house Butterfields to Bonham, a U.K.-based rival. As part of an agreement signed in July to acquire PayPal, eBay said it would shutter Billpoint, its competing online payment service. And in February, the company announced that it would close its Japanese auction site, which was trailing far behind Yahoo's site.

eBay used Kruse as a springboard to launch automotive site eBay Motors two years ago. Although sales through eBay Motors have grown, business at Kruse and Butterfields, which comprised the bulk eBay's offline operations, has been in a tailspin.

In the fourth quarter of last year, for instance, eBay's offline operations garnered just $7.8 million in revenue, compared to $219.4 million in total revenue. The offline revenue was down from $9 million in the third quarter and $10.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2000, when the company had just $134 million in revenue overall.

eBay purchased Kruse in March 1999 for 787,312 shares of stock, worth about $150 million at the time.