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EBay gets conditional OK for stake in Korean site

NEW YORK (AP) _ EBay Inc. said Thursday it received preliminary conditional approval from South Korean regulators for its potential purchase of a stake in Gmarket Inc., operator of an online marketplace in that country.

EBay shares rose 79 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $22.41, while Gmarket’s U.S. shares rose $2.16, or 9.9 percent, to $24.24.

San Jose, Calif.-based eBay had said in August that it was in talks with Interpark Corp. and its chairman, Ki Hyung Lee, owners of a combined 37 percent of Gmarket. Yahoo Inc. also owns a stake in the company.

Jose Mallabo, an eBay spokesman, said that no definitive agreement has been signed between eBay, Interpark and Lee. He said the conditions applied by the Korea Fair Trade Commission “should not prevent the parties from proceeding into more formal negotiations.”

If eBay does buy the stake, it would be its latest venture into the online auction market outside the United States. EBay says that more than half its revenue already comes from abroad.

EBay currently runs another Korean online auction site, Internet Auction. The company’s other international forays include a stake in Argentina-based MercadoLibre Inc. and a re-entrance to the Japanese market with Yahoo Japan Corp., Yahoo’s joint venture with Softbank Corp.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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