SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ebay said Wednesday it agreed to buy Shopping.com, which enables consumers to compare products online and to read consumer reviews.
The purchase price of about $620 million in cash, or $21 a share, is a 20 percent premium over Shopping.com's (Research) Wednesday close of $17.44 and shares surged nearly 20 percent in after-hours trading. eBay (Research) lost over 1 percent.
The move by eBay would strengthen its hand in providing online comparison shopping, something that Google Inc. (Research) has dabbled in with its Froogle service.
Users of Shopping.com can specify an item they are looking for and the Web site will direct the user to vendors providing that product. There is also a section for users to post product reviews.
An eBay spokesman said the purchase will allow the online auction house to expand into the market for general, everyday merchandise.
"It allows us to meet the needs of our sellers and exposes them to more buyers and buyers in a different kind of marketplace," said eBay spokesman Hani Durzy.
Shopping.com has not been a publicly traded company for long; it had its initial public offering in October 2004 at $18 per share.
Last month, the company posted a higher first-quarter profit on what it said was a stronger U.S. business and its launch in France. Net income rose to $3.9 million, or 12 cents a share, from $2.2 million, or 9 cents a share. Revenue rose 38 percent to $28.9 million.
Ebay said it expected the planned acquisition to be immaterial to its 2005 earnings per share before items; the acquisition will, however, lower its net earnings per share because of charges for stock-based compensation and the amortization of certain acquired assets.
Shopping.com also has more than 400,000 so-called Epinion reviewers that Ebay said would complement its own community-feedback-based marketplace.
Ebay said that the transaction, which is subject to approval from regulators and Shopping.com shareholders, is expected to close in the third quarter.
Shopping.com employs 200 full-time employees and 110 part-time employees and there are "no plans to dramatically change that team," said Durzy when asked about potential layoffs at Shopping.com.