EBay classifieds get international launch

In its latest move to expand beyond online auctions and to grow internationally, eBay Inc. late Tuesday said that it now runs Web sites offering free classified advertising in over 50 cities outside the U.S.

The Web sites were launched in Canada, Japan, China, France, Germany and Italy on Feb. 28 under the brand "Kijiji," which is Swahili for "village," eBay said. The sites are designed to allow local users to exchange information and trade with other Internet users in the same city.

Kijiji is a start-up operation within eBay created by a small team of its employees last year, the San Jose, California-based company said.

Within the last year, eBay has made a series of investments in the classifieds market as well as other fixed-price services. In August, the company acquired a 25-percent stake in San Francisco-based Craigslist, which offers classified-ad listings in major cities such as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. In December, it also bought the U.S. property listings site Rent.com Inc. for US$415 million.

Internationally, eBay in November spent about $290 million for Dutch classifieds Web site Marktplaats.nl, while in April it closed a $149 million deal to acquire Mobile.de, a German online site for selling vehicles.

The launch of Kijiji will have no material impact on the company's 2005 financial statements, eBay said.

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