eBay eyes partial purchase of Gmarket

The company confirms discussions with Interpark to purchase almost 40 percent of Gmarket, an online retailer based in South Korea.

Holly Jackson

eBay is negotiating to acquire almost 40 percent of Korean auction site and e-retailer Gmarket.

The online auction giant released a statement Wednesday confirming it is in talks to purchase Gmarket shares from auction-site affiliate Interpark and its chairman, Ki Hyung Lee. The company said no definitive agreement has been reached, although a preliminary filing is awaiting approval from the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

Seoul-based Gmarket was founded in 1999 and has established a base of 14.7 million registered users. In the financial report for its second quarter, ended June 30, the company announced a net income of $15.4 million.

By comparison, San Jose, Calif.-based eBay reported a net income of $460 million in its second quarter of the year, with 338.2 million registered members. In 2001, eBay showed interest in the Korean market by acquiring a majority stake in Korea's Internet Auction Company.

Gmarket's shares increased by 14 percent to close at $25.36 after eBay announced its interest in the company.