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Yahoo Japan, eBay to team up in '08

Yahoo Japan president Masahiro Inoue and eBay International president Lorrie Worthington celebrate the partnership. Yahoo Japan president Masahiro Inoue and eBay International president Lorrie Worthington celebrate the partnership. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
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Associated Press / December 5, 2007

TOKYO - Yahoo Japan Corp. and eBay Inc. agreed yesterday to team up in online auctions, planning services for next year that will make it easier for consumers to buy things over the Internet from the United States and Japan.

The move marks a return to Japan by eBay, which pulled out in 2002, never able to compete against the domination of Yahoo there.

Yahoo said by March, those in Japan will be able to bid for items on eBay through the Yahoo auction site in Japan. By the middle of next year, similarly, a site will be set up that will allow Americans to buy Yahoo Japan auction items through the eBay site.

The deal will facilitate "cross-border trading" and invigorate the online auction market, Yahoo said.

"We are excited to partner with Yahoo Japan in providing Japanese users with a localized site designed to enable them to shop on the eBay marketplace with ease and convenience," eBay chief executive Meg Whitman said in a statement.

EBay and Yahoo Japan - collaborating for the first time - also launched a separate website called Sekaimon, which means "global shopping" in Japanese.

The Sekaimon site will translate items listed on eBay into Japanese and help with payments, shipping, and customs clearance for Japanese shoppers, both sides said. Revenue from Sekaimon will be shared, they said, while not disclosing the terms.

Under the collaboration, Americans using eBay will be able to more easily buy Japanese goods popular abroad, such as "manga" comic books, CDs, and products that feature Japanese animation characters and other mascots, it said.

Also, some products are cheaper online abroad than in Japan, and consumers will be able to compare prices for the best deals.

Last year, Internet powerhouses Yahoo and eBay announced a wide-ranging alliance in the United States., helping define the battle lines against rivals Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., and AOL. Yahoo and eBay said they will draw upon each other's strengths in online advertising, payments, and communications. Since then, they have collaborated in advertising, online payments and other areas outside of Japan.

The online auction markets in both countries are growing, Yahoo said. In Japan, it's up about 27 percent from a year ago to an estimated $36.4 billion and in the United States, it's up 21 percent to more than $172 billion.

Lorrie Norrington, head of eBay's international operations, said the deal may be expanded to other businesses. Besides the online auction, eBay owns the PayPal online settlement service and Skype, an online telephone service.

Yahoo Japan president Masahiro Inoue said the companies may pursue a capital tie-up, although yesterday's deal doesn't involve such mutual investments.

The 2002 withdrawal from Japan was a rare defeat for San Jose, Calif.-based eBay, which entered that market in 2000. But it had just 25,000 items listed for sale. At that time, eBay said it hoped to return to the world's second-largest retail market when the timing was right.

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