Online marketplace eBay could be getting closer to selling off its classified advertising business, which is potentially worth about $10 billion, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Interested parties include Blackstone Group, TPG, Naspers and German publishing company Axel Springer. In addition, eBay has started looking into other potential buyers.
People who are familiar with the matter say indications of interest in buying the classified ad business have to be in by March. eBay’s classifieds operate mostly overseas, and it’s similar to a site like Craigslist, where users can post goods for sale.
eBay has reportedly been considering doing something with the division for much of 2019, and it could potentially spin it off or enter into a joint operation with another company, or just sell it outright.
Naspers, an internet conglomerate, already has a classified ad business of its own that’s currently operating in more than 30 countries, called OLX Group. Axel Springer, which is supported by the firm that owns Business Insider and Rolling Stone, has many of its own classified and online advertising businesses.
Although it has been struggling in the past few years, eBay was once an extremely popular and valuable company. Outfits like Amazon have taken away some of its luster.
There was a time when eBay was fostering brands like PayPal and StubHub, but sold them off once they forked away from the company’s core business.
Both Elliott Management and Starboard Value, two activist hedge funds, bought stakes in the company and have been pushing it to sell off its ticketing and classified businesses. Both companies have representation on eBay’s board.
Ebay sold StubHub to Viagogo in November for a price of $4.05 billion.
Devin Wenig, the company’s chief executive, left the company in September over disagreements with the company’s board in terms of how it was overseeing strategic review. A replacement has not yet been named.