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Naspers and Axel Springer in Bid for eBay Classifieds Unit

(Bloomberg) —

South Africa’s Naspers Ltd. and an investor group backed by German publisher Axel Springer SE are among suitors that submitted bids for EBay Inc.’s 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 Inc., 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% 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 Inc. 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.

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.

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