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eBay buys Wells Fargo's Billpoint stake

The online auctioneer pays $43.5 million to repurchase the stake bought by the financial services company in 2000. However, Wells Fargo will continue to support the service.

eBay said Thursday that it paid $43.5 million to acquire Wells Fargo's stake in Billpoint, the online auctioneer's online payment business.

Wells Fargo, a financial services company, took a stake in Billpoint in March 2000 as part of a deal with San Jose, Calif.-based eBay. In 1999, eBay bought Billpoint, which had been a separate company.

Billpoint lets individuals pay each other online and is used in about a quarter of eBay auctions. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo said Thursday that it would continue to support eBay Payments by Billpoint through its payment processing and risk-management services.

PayPal, a competing service, went public earlier this month, rising 54 percent on its first day of trading.

Despite the enthusiasm about PayPal, analysts said eBay isn't likely to relinquish its top spot in the auction area.

According to Prudential Securities' checks, eBay's net online revenue will jump 15 percent from the fourth quarter with the help of a recent increase in fees.

Prudential analyst Mark Rowen said that eBay was showing strength across most of its businesses, but did not specifically address Billpoint. eBay, which is halfway through its first quarter, is expected to report earnings of 16 cents a share, according to First Call.