eBay may be the mystery bidder behind a possible takeover of its smaller UK rival QXL Ricardo, which yesterday confirmed it had received a bid approach. Shares in QXL Ricardo rose 10.6 per cent to £16.70 after the announcement, giving the online auctioneer a capitalisation of £771 million. That is still less than half its £1.7 billion value at the height of the dot-com boom in 2000, when its shares reached £37.
The FTSE 250-listed business said: “The company notes the recent movement in the company’s share price and confirms that it has received a preliminary approach which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company.”
It is understood eBay, which generated full-year sales of $6 billion (£2.9 billion) and $1.1 billion in profits, would be interested in QXL Ricardo’s Eastern European business. Of particular interest would be its lucrative Polish division, which, until June last year, was the subject of a three-year legal dispute between management.