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India one of the fastest growing markets for eBay: Whitman

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MUMBAI: Online auction major eBay Inc. will focus this year on consolidation and integration of the acquisitions it had made in 2005. The company had bought internet phone company Skype Technologies, real estate company Rent.com and consumer review site Shoppong.com Inc.

eBay Inc. president and CEO Meg Whitman, who was on her first visit to India, told reporters here that the company would continue to look at acquisition opportunities but the focus would be on "consolidation and integration" this year.

Being bullish on India, Whitman said it was one of the fastest growing markets for eBay along with China, Korea and a few other countries in the Asia Pacific region. In 2004, eBay acquired India's most popular online shopping site, Baazee.com.

"Though the internet base in India is low, it is growing at a fast pace. We are looking forward to the increase in broadband penetration as it accelerates the growth of online trade," she said.

eBay India has two million users across 240 cities in India and the most popular items sold on the site are jewellery, mobile phones and digital cameras. Globally, eBay has 181 million users.

eBay, which was built on auction-style trading, is seeing growth in fixed-price format. "Today, 34 per cent of the trade on the site takes place in the fixed-price format," she said.

When asked what precautions eBay was taking against counterfeit products, Whitman said the company was partnering with 14,000 intellectual property rights owners who can identify such items.

After the acquisition of Baazee.com, the Indian operations have gained from eBay's global presence. "One-third of our business now comes from cross border trade. Sellers from India have access to buyers from nearly 100 countries. An Indian seller sells to an international buyer every nine minutes," said eBay India country manager Gautam Thakar.

Though the top six towns in India account for 40-45 per cent of eBay India's trade, rapid growth is coming from the small towns. Sellers are also coming from these places and micro enterprises. "There is width and depth in the marketplace. A piece of jewellery sells every five minutes, a mobile handset sells every seven minutes and a digital camera every 46 minutes," Thakar said.

EBay India chairman Avnish Bajaj also expressed optimism in the growth of e-commerce in India.

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