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Only months after shutting down five European auction sites, Yahoo! said it will develop co-branded auction sites in Scandinavia with QXL Ricardo.

The deal with QXL Ricardo to establish the sites in Norway, Sweden and Denmark follows Yahoo!'s decision in May shut down its auction sites in the UK and Ireland, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. At that time, Yahoo also signed a "preferred partner" agreement with eBay for those markets.

When the closures were announced, Mark Opzoomer, managing director of Yahoo! Europe, said that Yahoo! was planning to focus on the development of advertising and commerce areas, such as shopping and travel, since these areas were growing faster and more profitably than European auctions. The only European auction site that Yahoo! continued to maintain was its Danish site.

Because Yahoo! now has a working relationship with both QXL Ricardo and eBay -- both of which operate in many European markets -- it might appear that Yahoo! is competing with itself. But Yahoo !denies this claim and QXL Ricardo points out that eBay has no presence in Scandinavia.

"Our relationship with QXL Ricardo is entirely different from our agreement with eBay," said Sue Jackson, corporate communications manager for Yahoo! Europe. "We have a preferred partner agreement with eBay in the markets where we don't have a presence. The agreement with QXL Ricardo means that Yahoo! will continue to maintain a presence in the Scandinavian market, although QXL will actually be running the site."

Jackson indicated that the labour intensive nature of the on-line auction market is one of the reasons why Yahoo! chose to withdraw from the European auction market during its review of its business operations. Yahoo! has previously indicated that it has no intention of winding down its auction business in the US.

The companies' new co-branded auction service will be accessed via a jump-page off at Yahoo! home pages in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. It will retain the look and feel of the current Yahoo auction site and will be co-branded as "powered by QXL."

Separately, QXL Ricardo has announced its results for the quarter ending 30 June 2002. It had a quarterly turnover of STG1.6 million, up from STG1.55 million for the same quarter last year. It had an operating loss of STG4.9 million, an improvement from a loss of STG10.7 million announced in the same quarter last year. Per share losses were STG0.006 per share, an improvement from a loss of STG0.016 per share for the same quarter last year.

In Europe, the company now runs auction sites Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Spain, Poland, Finland, and Switzerland. QXL Ricardo has no Irish auction site nor has it any plans to launch one, said a spokesperson. Instead the company encourages Irish users to use its UK site.

© ENN.

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