Motors.co.uk could be sold off as part of a deal to push through a £6.5bn merger between eBay and Adevinta.
The popular classified motor website – the second largest in the UK – could be hived off along with Shpock and Gumtree UK.
In July, Norway-based Shpock owner Adevinta sealed a deal for eBay’s classifieds business which also gave the US giant a 33.3 per cent voting stake and a seat at the board of its rival.
However, the move – which would create the world’s largest online classified advertising group – has drawn concern from the UK’s competition regulator.
In February, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was planning to launch an in-depth ‘Phase 2’ probe which could halt the deal if the firms did not address worries it could harm competition and impact prices for consumers.
The CMA said yesterday that the firms have offered the sale of Shpock and eBay’s UK Gumtree business, which includes Motors.co.uk, as a potential remedy.
The CMA said it is considering the company’s proposal, but believes there are reasonable grounds to suggest the latest offering ‘might be accepted’.
Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers at the CMA, said: ‘Competition between different online platforms is important for people selling used items or searching for a bargain online, as it leads to them receiving better services and lower fees.
‘The companies have offered the sale of two businesses which we believe may address the competition concerns our investigation raised.
‘The CMA will now review these proposals carefully before making our final decision.
‘This is one of an ongoing series of merger probes involving large digital mergers, where we are scrutinising deals to preserve competition and protect consumers’ interests.’
The eBay Motors Group was formed when Cox Automotive agreed to sell the Motors.co.uk business to eBay in 2018.
The Motors.co.uk business would be an attractive purchase in the UK as it has forged an enviable position as number two to Auto Trader.
The business has been busy forging ahead with its marketing plans to help dealers.
The firm revealed this week it will launch a major TV advertising campaign which will air on ITV, Sky and Channel 4 from March 22.
The regulator has until April 29 to decide whether to accept the proposal.
Motors.co.uk has been approached for comment.
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