Yahoo closes European auction sites, promotes eBay –

Yahoo Inc. will close five of its online auction sites that serve six European countries and instead promote rival eBay Inc.'s sites in the region, the companies said late Wednesday.

Within the next few weeks, Yahoo will stop accepting new listings for its U.K. and Ireland auction site, as well as the sites serving France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The service will then be suspended within six weeks following the start of a campaign to promote eBay's auction service, Yahoo of Sunnyvale, California, and eBay, of San Jose, California, said in a joint statement.

The closure is part of Yahoo's company-wide focus on areas where its sees long-term growth and profitability. EBay, under the terms of a multiyear agreement, will advertise on the five Yahoo sites and will be featured as the preferred online auction service, Yahoo said. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Yahoo will devote its resources to travel and shopping, which it sees as "key growth areas." Auction services on the rest of the Yahoo network, including the one in Denmark, are not affected by the eBay agreement, Yahoo said.

"We decided that auctions was not an area we want to be in Europe, but we continue to see opportunities in Denmark," said a Yahoo spokesperson. "Yahoo auction sites were basically number three in Europe after eBay and QXL Ricardo (PLC)."

EBay last year acquired French online auctioneer iBazar SA, making it one of the leading players in Europe. The main rival is QXL Ricardo. Inc. also offers auctions in Europe and recently added a marketplace feature to its U.K. and German Web sites.

EBay isn't successful everywhere, however. The company suffered a high-profile failure earlier this year when it shut its Japanese site after failing to attract enough users.

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