By and  on December 20, 2010

BERLIN — Stepping up its profile in Europe, eBay said Monday it has acquired Germany’s largest online shopping club, Brands4friends, for 150 million euros, or about $200 million at current exchange.

The deal is an extension of eBay’s push in Germany and the U.K. during the last 18 months. The online marketplace, which has volume of more than $5.4 billion a year in apparel, accessories and shoes, has opened eBay “Fashion Outlets” in the two countries, allowing eBay customers to buy directly from participating fashion firms. The companies include Adidas, Ben Sherman, Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, LaCoste, Miss Sixty, Puma, Stone Island and William Rast.

Founded in 2007 in Berlin, Brands4friends has an estimated 3.5 million registered members. It offers reduced price merchandise from a portfolio of about 600 international fashion and lifestyle brands.

The Brands4friends deal provides eBay with an entry into the growing online shopping club sector. The company said its own research has shown that the clubs generate about 20 percent of online fashion sales in Europe. In the U.S., eBay offers limited-time deals through Fashion Vault, but anyone can view the sales without first becoming a member.

Last October, rival Amazon took over the fashion club Buy VIP.

“With the acquisition of Brands4friends, we will enter the online shopping club market with an established and dynamic partner who has the expertise, relationships and passion to match our own ambition,” said Doug McCallum, senior vice president of eBay in Europe.

Both platforms will remain independent, the two companies said.

“We are able to bring our retail and brand competence and industry knowledge to eBay, and we can expect to benefit from eBay’s traffic and e-commerce experience to accelerate the growth of our shopping community,” said Sergio Dias, chief executive officer of Brands4friends.

The new deal includes Brands4friends’ equity interests in Japan in, and the U.K. shopping club The is subject to regulatory approvals and is forecast to close in the first quarter of next year.

EBay said the purchase was not expected to have a material impact on its 2011 financial results.

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