SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s antitrust regulator said Friday it has approved a deal by E-Mart Inc., a discount store chain under Shinsegae Group, to buy the Korean unit of U.S. e-commerce giant eBay Inc.
In June, E-Mart signed a deal with eBay to acquire an 80 percent stake in eBay Korea for 3.44 trillion won (US$2.9 billion), a move expected to bring seismic change to the country’s online shopping sector.
The Fair Trade Commission said it has given the green light for the deal, saying that the move is not expected to hamper market competition.
“We expect the approval to help spur new competition in the retail sector,” the commission said in a statement.
South Korean retailers have made efforts to strengthen the e-commerce business as more people have used online shopping platforms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
E-Mart’s takeover is widely expected to close within this year.
With the acquisition, E-Mart’s parent and retail giant Shinsegae Group is expected to take on local e-commerce rivals, such as Coupang Inc.
EBay Korea is a major player in South Korea’s e-commerce sector and operates platforms such as Gmarket and Auction.
EBay Korea took up the third spot in the country’s online shopping market last year with a share of 12 percent. Internet giant Naver Corp. held the top spot with 17 percent, followed by Coupang with 13 percent.
SSG.com, an online mall arm of Shinsegae Group, held an estimated 3 percent. Industry watchers said the acquisition is expected to boost the retailer’s share to second place.
Shinsegae earlier said it plans to invest more than 1 trillion won in fulfillment centers, or warehouses, over the next four years.
It expects the takeover to raise the portion of E-Mart’s online business to 50 percent of the total and encourage its shift to online and digital services.