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eBay to sell off its classified ads business for $9.2B

It's the latest in a string of sales for the struggling e-commerce giant.

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Angela Lang/CNET

The biggest things selling on eBay lately are multibillion-dollar chunks of eBay's own business.

The e-commerce platform said Tuesday it's selling its classified ads business for $9.2 billion in cash and stock to Adevinta, a fellow online retailer based in Norway.

The deal comes as eBay has significantly slimmed down its operations over the years, which started with the spinoff of PayPal and the sale of its enterprise business in 2015. Activist investors Elliott Management and Starboard Value have agitated for the sale of both StubHub, a ticketing marketplace, and the classifieds business, which have now both been sold off. eBay late last year agreed to sell StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05 billion in cash.

What's mainly left of eBay is its core online marketplace, which over the years has diminished in influence in e-commerce. Walmart this year overtook eBay as the second-biggest online seller in the US, according to the researcher eMarketer, following years of lackluster growth at eBay.

It's possible that, after selling off piece after piece of the company, eBay may now be small enough and focused enough to make for a good acquisition target, which is a rumor that's been swirling in the e-commerce world since the PayPal spinoff. eBay's stock value is still over $40 billion, so only a few major companies, like Alibaba, could afford it, and Amazon is an unlikely suitor due to antitrust issues.

As part of the Adevinta deal, eBay will receive $2.5 billion in cash and own 44% of the company, though only have 33% of voting rights. The sale is expected to close by the first quarter of next year.

Adding to its business struggles, eBay took a hit to its corporate reputation this year. Last month, six former eBay employees were charged after allegedly harassing a Massachusetts couple who ran an e-commerce blog that some eBay executives disliked. The employees sent threatening messages, a box of live cockroaches and a bloody pig mask, according to the Department of Justice.

See also: These 7 household items sell surprisingly well on eBay and Facebook Marketplace

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