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Amazon invests in online auctioneer

Once again playing catch-up with eBay in the auction space, the Internet retailer says it has invested $5 million in Greg Manning Auctions.

Once again playing catch-up with eBay in the auction space, Amazon.com today said it has invested $5 million in Greg Manning Auctions, an online auctioneer with a presence in China, Europe and the United States.

The move comes a week after leading online auctioneer eBay cut a deal with China.com--an Internet services company which will market eBay's new Chinatown auction service to Asian online customers.

Today's deal marks yet another investment for Seattle-based Amazon in its continued deal-making binge. Earlier this week, Amazon agreed to acquire an 18 percent stake in online home furnishing retailer Living.com and a 5 percent stake in Audible.com, to name but a few of the investments the company has made recently.

Greg Manning Auctions (GMA) is headquartered in West Caldwell, N.J. Other details of the investment were not disclosed.

E-commerce players are increasingly setting their sights on Asia to help sustain their growth. In the past few weeks, other U.S. companies entering partnerships with Asian players include Internet investment firm CMGI and Priceline.com, the name-your-price service.

Through its subsidiary, GMAI-Asia.com, GMA hopes to tap the e-commerce and Internet opportunities anticipated in China. Its Asian site is positioning itself as a leading consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business Internet trading platform in China. The company said GMAI-Asia.com anticipates year 2000 sales to exceed $100 million.

Although analysts expect a booming Asian middle class to propel e-commerce as it flocks online, they also have warned that the Asian market is dotted with potentially deep potholes, including spotty telecommunications services and rickety distribution channels in some regions. Still, most experts maintain that it is vital for U.S. e-commerce players to set up shop in Asia, citing partnerships with local firms as the best path to success.

In a related agreement, the companies formed a marketing alliance in which GMA will provide Amazon.com customers with quality collectible offerings on Amazon.com Auctions and zShops under a GMA-branded banner.

GMA services offer collectible stamps, coins, sports cards, sports memorabilia, comics and other memorabilia. The terms of the marketing agreement were not disclosed.