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Yahoo shutters European auction sites

The gavel has sounded on five of the company's European auction sites, and former customers are being pointed to eBay.

    The gavel has sounded on five of Yahoo's European auction sites.

    Yahoo closed on Friday its auction sites that serve the United Kingdom and Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. The online portal is now pointing customers to eBay as part of an agreement announced between the two companies last month.

    "Yahoo Auctions is now closed," the company wrote in a note to customers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. "We would like to thank you for using the UK & Ireland auction service, and we hope you have enjoyed the Yahoo experience."

    The company left similar notes on its four other shuttered sites.

    Yahoo representatives did not return calls seeking comment about the closure.

    Yahoo has struggled with auctions in the United States and Europe. Once eBay's top rival, Yahoo saw its auction listings and relevance plummet after it introduced listing fees last year. In Europe, the company had struggled to gain traction against eBay and European rivals such as QXL Ricardo.

    Yahoo, which is maintaining its auction sites in several Scandinavian countries, has done well in Japan, however. And its move to close the European sites is a mirror image of eBay's decision in March to withdraw from the Japanese market after it stumbled badly there.

    As part of the deal between the companies, Yahoo will promote eBay's rival sites with banner ads and text links. Already, customers who click on "auctions" on Yahoo's U.K. site come to a page with an eBay logo and a note describing eBay as Yahoo's "preferred online auction service."

    Despite that status, Yahoo buyers and sellers will not be able to take their feedback ratings with them to eBay, since that was not part of the deal signed between the two companies. However, several smaller European auction sites such as U.K.-based eBid have offered to transfer Yahoo users' feedback ratings.

    eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment about the closure of the Yahoo auction sites or the decision not to transfer feedback from Yahoo auction users.

    Despite its official closure, the U.K. site still had 19 active auctions Friday afternoon, though all were set to close by Saturday morning. Bidding on one auction, for an official World Cup soccer ball signed by a number of soccer stars, had reached 290,000 euros ($287,000) with less than 10 hours left.

    Yahoo has also promised to keep open its "My Auctions" feature for the next two weeks. The feature allows members to keep track of auctions they have participated in and provides contact information for buyers and sellers.