EBay to Raise More Than $1 Billion Selling Stake in MercadoLibre

  • Company says sale will yield "significant gain" on investment
  • Online retailers will continue cross-border partnership

EBay Inc. said it is selling most of its stake in MercadoLibre Inc., Latin America’s largest online marketplace, and will use the proceeds for other purposes.

MercadoLibre said EBay is offering up to 5.5 million shares, and underwriters Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have an option to buy 825,000 extra MercadoLibre shares. At current prices, the offering would raise more than $1 billion.

EBay said it will realize "significant gain" on its investment in MercadoLibre and the money will be used "in a manner consistent with our capital allocation strategy." The San Jose, California-based e-commerce company has been buying back a lot of its stock recently.

EBay has been the Buenos Aires-based company’s largest shareholder since 2001, when MercadoLibre acquired iBazar Com Ltda. from EBay in exchange for a 20 percent stake. EBay said it would give financial guidance on the transaction during its earnings call next week.

MercadoLibre and EBay will continue to work on cross-border transactions to help EBay sellers reach shoppers in Latin America.

MercadoLibre is one of the most valuable publicly traded companies based in Argentina, with a market value of $8.1 billion and revenue last year of $651.8 million. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Marcos Galperin started the company in his garage.

MercadoLibre is benefiting from the growing numbers of internet users across Latin America, where the number of online shoppers rose 11 percent to 116 million in 2015, according to researcher eMarketer. That lagged only Asia’s 15 percent growth.

MercadoLibre shares, traded in the U.S., fell more than 6 percent to $171.49 in after-hours action on Wednesday. EBay shares climbed 2 percent to $32.11 in extended trading.

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