EBay CEO says open to Russia JVs, acquisitions

 @ibtimes
on February 17 2010 5:38 PM

MOSCOW - EBay would consider acquisitions in the $5 billion Russian online retail market to help maintain a foothold in the country, Chief Executive John Donahoe said on Wednesday.

If the right opportunity presents itself, we will be open to acquisitions (in Russia), Donahoe told Reuters during a reception held by the U.S. embassy in the Russian capital. He added that joint ventures were also under consideration.

EBay, an online retailer and auction site, said on Tuesday it would start an online retail platform in five European countries and Russia by the end of March for cross-border transactions. 

Donahoe said Russia's e-commerce market is worth $5 billion a year -- compared with $150 billion in the United States -- but could grow to $20 billion.

Our goal.. is to have a small percentage of that .. The (Russian) market is at an exciting, but growing stage, and there is a lot of opportunity there, he said.

The Russian e-commerce market grew by more than 50 percent last year to $5 billion and can continue to do so for many years to come, he added.

Russian Internet use is still relatively low, but growth in broadband connections has attracted more users.

EBay competes against online retailers such as Amazon.com, and has been expanding into new European markets.

Donahoe reiterated a cautious view of the global online retail market, saying the economy was growing at a slow and steady rate.

He said he was content with eBay's 30 percent stake in online telephone network Skype. (Additional reporting by Alexandria Sage in San Francisco, editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Robert MacMillan)

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