EBay Inc. announced Monday it would buy a 19.5 per cent stake in MercadoLibre SA, a company that runs online auction sites serving Latin America, Spain and U.S. Hispanics.

Acquiring this stake in MercadoLibre is “an important step in our global strategy” that is expected to expand eBay’s reach throughout Latin America, said eBay president and CEO Meg Whitman in a statement.

As part of the deal, MercadoLibre has agreed to buy a Brazilian auction site called iBazar Com Ltda., which was acquired by eBay in May. iBazar Com has more than 450,000 registered users in Brazil. EBay will retain ownership of iBazar Com’s parent company iBazar SA based in Paris.

It wasn’t clear from the brief joint statement, put out by the companies, how they plan to collaborate. The statement doesn’t say, for example, if or how the companies will carry items listed by the other. No financial details were provided.

MercadoLibre operates auction sites in 10 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, M

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