Permira, the London-based private equity firm which owns Dr Martens, is plotting a $10bn (£7.6bn) takeover of eBay’s classified advertising division.
Daily Week News has learnt that Permira is in talks with Carsales.com, an Australian-listed company, about a joint bid for the eBay unit, which has been put up for sale amid mounting pressure from activist investors.
The discussions between Permira and Carsales.com are at an early stage and may not result in a formal offer from them, according to insiders.
However, their potential alliance could make them a credible bidder in the auction of the eBay classified business, which is understood to generate the majority of its revenue in Europe.
Bids are due to be lodged for the division this month, although it was unclear on Friday whether the rapid global spread of the coronavirus might have an impact on the process.
The other bidders which have approached eBay are understood to include Axel Springer, the German media company controlled by buyout firm KKR; the internet group Naspers; and Autoscout, which is backed by private equity investor Hellman & Friedman.
Sources said that eBay was only allowing private equity firms to submit offers for its classifieds unit if they were the owner of, or partnering, a relevant strategic bidder.
EBay, which is best-known for its core marketplace operation, signalled last month that it was exploring a sale of the division.
The company has been under pressure from activist investors Elliott management and Starboard Value to sell its other businesses.
In December it announced the disposal of ticketing company StubHub to rival Viagogo.
EBay was recently approached by Intercontinental Exchange, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, about a takeover, but the talks were rapidly curtailed.
Permira declined to comment on Friday.