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Ebay tries to allay fears of slowing growth

Ebay tries to allay fears of slowing growth

Ebay executives on Thursday tried to shake off concerns about slowing growth in the company’s core auction markets as they outlined plans to take the company into new and faster-growing parts of e-commerce.

Speaking at the company’s annual analyst meeting, Meg Whitman, chief executive, also brushed off suggestions that new services launched recently by Google, from its free Google Base listings service to an online payments system, threatened Ebay.

“I think we have really strong positions,” she said of the company’s e-commerce, online payments and communications businesses, while adding that its three clearly focused brands around these areas – Ebay, Paypal and Skype – left it with three of the five best-known Internet brands.

Ebay’s shares have slumped this year amid concerns of competition from Google, as well as fears that its established business is slowing, particularly outside the US. International growth slowed to 18 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

The international slowdown showed that international markets had passed their “hyper-growth” phase and were also becoming more seasonal, company executives said.

They also pointed to severe competition in Asia, particularly in South Korea and China, the second of which was a big focus of investment last year.

A move into selling new, “in-season” items, in competition with online retailers, represented one of the best opportunities to add to the growth, Ms Whitman said.

Fixed-price sales on Ebay, as opposed to auctions, already accounted for 34 per cent of transactions last year, and the company last week launched a new website, Ebay Express, to increase its appeal to shoppers who were not attracted to its traditional auctions.

Ms Whitman said that it could be two to three years before the company started to see the benefits from integrating Skype, the VoIP service acquired last year.


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