EBay Buys Rent.com Web Site for $415M

In a diversification move, online auctioneer eBay Inc. (EBAY) is buying the privately held Rent.com, which specializes in Internet listings of apartment and house rentals, for about $415 million in stock and cash.

The deal, announced Friday, would enable eBay to expand into a new segment of the online real estate market.

Rent.com (search), which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., was launched nationally on October 2001 and matches prospective renters and landlords who are charged a fee if they sign a lease as a result of their free property listings.

The company said it is profitable and expects revenues in 2004 to total more than $40 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expect eBay, which is based in San Jose, Calif., to report revenues of about $3.26 billion this year.

"Rent.com has been extremely successful in the apartment rental space online and is a great match for eBay," Bill Cobb, president, eBay North America, said in a statement.

Under terms of the deal, eBay would pay $30 million in cash and shares worth about $385 million.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2005 subject to approval by Rent.com shareholders and regulators.

On the Nasdaq Stock Market (search), eBay shares were up 27 cents at $115.97.