Naspers reportedly in bid to buy eBay classifieds unit

Naspers and an investor group backed by German publisher Axel Springer SE are among suitors that submitted bids for EBay classified-advertising business, according to people familiar with the matter.

Axel Springer teamed up with KKR & Co. for its offer, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Online classifieds company Adevinta ASA also made a bid for the unit by this week’s deadline, the people said.

A consortium of Blackstone Group, Permira and Hellman & Friedman has also been pursuing the business, the people said.

The unit could fetch $8 billion to $10 billion, according to one of the people. EBay could decide as soon as next week which suitors advance to the next round, the people said.

EBay shares rose 2.3{e93887a69cdd95d753f466db084bbc3aa0067124675315461d28d68a72842cc2} in New York Friday, valuing the company at about $30.5 billion.

A potential sale of EBay’s classifieds unit could rank among the largest deals in Europe involving private equity firms this year. EBay is seeking a sale of the business at a time when market turmoil has hampered financing for leveraged buyouts, forcing companies to put a number of bidding processes on hold.

Walmart  paused the sale of a majority stake in its U.K. grocery chain Asda to focus management’s attention on running the business amid unprecedented spikes in demand driven by the coronavirus.

Representatives for EBay, Adevinta, Axel Springer, Blackstone, KKR, Naspers and Permira declined to comment. A spokesperson for Hellman & Friedman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

READ | Naspers has $8bn for deals, targets online education

EBay said in February it was in talks with multiple parties about a sale of the business and expected to update investors by the end of the first half. While the San Jose, California-based company reported better-than-expected sales in the first quarter, the classifieds unit dragged on results as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of car dealerships.

EBay’s classified business has attracted interest from several strategic and private equity firms, Dealreporter and The Wall Street Journal have previously reported, citing unidentified people. Permira partially owns Polish online auction site Allegro. Hellman & Friedman is a backer of digital car marketplace Autoscout24 GmbH.

E-commerce group Naspers, Africa’s largest company by market value, is seeking to boost its portfolios in classifieds, food delivery and digital-payments businesses as well as education, Chief Executive Officer Bob Van Dijk said in an interview this month. The company acquires online companies around the world through Amsterdam-listed Prosus NV, which the company spun off in September last year.

German publisher Axel Springer has ramped up its hunt for deals to accelerate a shift into digital media since agreeing to go private with the help of KKR last year.

Norway’s Adevinta was spun off of Scandinavian media conglomerate Schibsted ASA last year with the goal of expanding in the global online classified market.

Fin24 is in the Naspers-owned Media24 stable.

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