10-K 1 meli-20181231x10k.htm 10-K 20181231 10K

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549





FORM 10-K

 



(Mark One)



 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934



For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018

OR

 



 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934



For the transition period from                       to                     

Commission file number 001-33647

 

 

MercadoLibre, Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

 

 



 

 

Delaware

 

98-0212790

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification Number)

Arias 3751, 7th Floor

Buenos Aires, Argentina, C1430CRG

(Address of registrant’s principal executive offices) (Zip Code)

(+5411) 4640-8000

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 



 

 



 

 

Title of Class

 

Name of Exchange upon Which Registered

Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share

 

Nasdaq Global Select Market



Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

 

 

1


 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulations S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment of this Form 10-K.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company”, and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:

 



 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Large Accelerated Filer

 

  

Accelerated Filer

 



 

 

 

Non-Accelerated Filer

 

  

  

Smaller reporting company

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

 



If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes       No  

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share, at June 30, 2018, held by those persons deemed by the registrant to be non-affiliates (based upon the closing sale price of the Common Stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on June 30, 2018) was approximately $10,449,108,613. Shares of the registrant’s Common Stock held by each executive officer and director and by each entity or person that, to the registrant’s knowledge, owned 10% or more of the registrant’s outstanding common stock as of June 30, 2018 have been excluded from this number because these persons may be deemed affiliates of the registrant. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.

As of February 22, 2019, there were 45,202,859 shares of the registrant’s Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share, outstanding.

Documents Incorporated By Reference

Portions of the Company’s Definitive Proxy Statement relating to its 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by no later than April 30, 2019, are incorporated by reference in Part III, Items 10-14 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K as indicated herein.

 

 

2


 

 

MERCADOLIBRE, INC.

FORM 10-K

FOR FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2018

 



 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

  

 

  



 

PART I

  

 

 

 



 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

  

 

  



 

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

  

 

15 

  



 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

  

 

32 

  



 

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

  

 

32 

  



 

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

  

 

32 

  



 

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

  

 

32 

  



 

PART II

  

 

 

 



 

ITEM  5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

  

 

33 

  



 

ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

  

 

35 

  



 

ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

  

 

38 

  



 

ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

  

 

67 

  



 

ITEM 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

  

 

70 

  



 

ITEM 9. CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES

  

 

70 

  



 

ITEM 9A. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

  

 

70 

  



 

ITEM 9B. OTHER INFORMATION

  

 

71 

  



 

PART III

  

 

 

 



 

ITEM 10. DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

  

 

71 

  



 

ITEM 11. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

  

 

71 

  



 

ITEM 12. SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDERS MATTERS

  

 

72 

  



 

ITEM 13. CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE

  

 

73 

  



 

ITEM 14. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES

  

 

73 

  



 

PART IV

  

 

 

 



 

ITEM 15. EXHIBITS, FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES

  

 

74 

  



 

INDEX TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

  

 

74 

  



 

EXHIBIT INDEX

  

 

74 

  



SIGNATURES

  

 

76 

  



 



 

 

 

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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Any statements made or implied in this report that are not statements of historical fact, including statements about our beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and should be evaluated as such. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “estimate,” “target,” “project,” “should,” “may,” “could,” “will” and similar words and expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are contained throughout this report, for example in “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business.” Forward-looking statements generally relate to information concerning our possible or assumed future results of operations, business strategies, financing plans, competitive position, industry environment, potential growth opportunities, future economic, political and social conditions in the countries in which we operate and their possible impact on our business, and the effects of future regulation and the effects of competition. Such forward-looking statements reflect, among other things, our current expectations, plans, projections and strategies, anticipated financial results, future events and financial trends affecting our business, all of which are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors (in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this report) that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among other things:

·

our expectations regarding the continued growth of e-commerce and Internet usage in Latin America;

·

our ability to expand our operations and adapt to rapidly changing technologies;

·

our ability to attract new customers, retain existing customers and increase revenues;

·

the impact of government and central bank and other regulations on our business;

·

litigation and legal liability;

·

systems interruptions or failures;

·

our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel;

·

consumer trends;

·

security breaches and illegal uses of our services;

·

competition;

·

reliance on third-party service providers;

·

enforcement of intellectual property rights;

·

seasonal fluctuations and

·

political, social and economic conditions in Latin America.

Many of these risks are beyond our ability to control or predict. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for Management to predict all such risk factors, nor can it assess the impact of all such risk factors on our company’s business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements.

These statements are based on currently available information and our current assumptions, expectations and projections about future events. While we believe that our assumptions, expectations and projections are reasonable in view of the currently available information, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance. They are subject to future events, risks and uncertainties—many of which are beyond our control—as well as potentially inaccurate assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations and projections. Some of the material risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations and projections are described in “Item 1A—Risk Factors” in Part I of this report. You should read that information in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Item 7 of Part II of this report and our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes in Item 8 of Part II of this report, as well as the factors discussed in the other reports and documents we file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). We note such information for investors as permitted by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. There also may be other factors that we cannot anticipate or that are not described in this report, generally because they are unknown to us or we do not perceive them to be material that could cause results to differ materially from our expectations.

Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we do not undertake to update these forward-looking statements except as may be required by law. You are advised, however, to review any further disclosures we make on related subjects in our periodic filings with the SEC.

4


 

PART I

 



 

ITEM 1.

BUSINESS

MercadoLibre, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries “us”, “we”, “our” or the “Company”) is the largest online commerce ecosystem in Latin America based on unique visitors and page views, and is present in 18 countries: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and El Salvador. Our platform is designed to provide users with a complete portfolio of services to facilitate commercial transactions.

Through our platform, we provide buyers and sellers with a robust environment that fosters the development of a large e-commerce community in Latin America, a region with a population of over 644 million people and one of the fastest-growing Internet penetration rates in the world. We believe that we offer technological and commercial solutions that address the distinctive cultural and geographic challenges of operating an online commerce platform in Latin America.

We offer our users an ecosystem of six integrated e-commerce services: the MercadoLibre Marketplace, the MercadoPago FinTech platform, the MercadoEnvios logistics service, the MercadoLibre Classifieds service, the MercadoLibre advertising solution and the MercadoShops online webstores solution.

The MercadoLibre Marketplace is a fully-automated, topically-arranged and user-friendly online commerce platform, which can be accessed through our website and mobile app. This platform enables both businesses and individuals to list merchandise and conduct sales and purchases online.

MercadoPago is our financial technology (FinTech) solution, designed to facilitate transactions both on and off our marketplaces by providing a mechanism that allows our users to securely, easily and promptly send and receive payments online. Outside of our marketplaces, MercadoPago allows merchants to process transactions via their websites and mobile apps, as well as in their brick-and-mortar stores through QR and mobile points of sale (“MPOS”). It also enables users to easily transfer money to each other. Through MercadoFondo, our asset management product, our users are able to invest the stored balance from their MercadoPago account at competitive rates and in a simple way. MercadoCredito, our lending solution, allows us to finance merchants’ working capital needs and consumers’ purchases.

Through MercadoEnvios logistics solution we offer sellers on our platform technological and operational integration with third-party carriers and other logistics services providers, as well as fulfillment and warehousing services. Sellers that opt into the solution are able to offer a uniform and seamlessly integrated shipping experience to their buyers at competitive prices.

Through MercadoLibre Classifieds, our online classified listing service, our users can also list and purchase motor vehicles, real estate and services in the countries where we operate. Classifieds listings differ from Marketplace listings as they only charge optional placement fees and not final value fees. Our classifieds pages are also a major source of traffic to our platform, benefitting both the Enhanced Marketplace and non-Marketplace businesses.

Our advertising platform enables businesses to promote their products and services on the Internet. Through this platform, advertisers and our sellers are able to display ads on our webpages.

Additionally, through MercadoShops, our online store solution, users can set up, manage and promote their own online stores. These stores are hosted by MercadoLibre and offer integration with the rest of our ecosystem, namely our marketplaces and payment services. Users can select between a free model and a subscription-based model for enhanced functionalities and services on their store webpage.

5


 

History of MercadoLibre

In March 1999, Marcos Galperin, our co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, wrote MercadoLibre’s business plan while working towards his master’s degree in business administration at Stanford Business School. Shortly thereafter, he began to assemble a team of professionals to implement it. We were incorporated in Delaware in October 1999 and commenced operations in Argentina in August 1999.

Since our inception, we have grown both organically and through strategic acquisitions. The following table shows the services currently available in each country:





 

 

 

 

 

 

Country

 

Marketplace

 

MercadoPago

 

MercadoEnvios

Argentina

 

 

 

Brazil

 

 

 

Mexico

 

 

 

Uruguay

 

 

 

Colombia

 

 

 

Chile

 

 

 

Peru

 

 

 

 

Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, Parauay, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador

 

 

 

 

 



In addition to our organic growth, from 2001 to 2006, we had a strategic alliance with eBay, Inc “eBay”, one of our former stockholders. This alliance provided us with access to certain know-how and experience, which accelerated aspects of our development. On October 13, 2016, eBay sold all of its shares in our company. Following the termination of this alliance, there are no contractual restrictions preventing eBay from becoming one of our competitors. See “Risk Factors—Risks related to our business—We operate in a highly competitive and evolving market, and therefore face potential reductions in the use of our service.”

We completed our initial public offering in August 2007 and our common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (“NASDAQ”).

We have grown in part through certain acquisitions since our inception, including of certain operations of DeRemate.com in 2005 and, more recently, Inmobiliaria Web, Business Vision S.A., KPL Soluções Ltda and Metros Cúbicos, S.A. de C.V.

In February 2016, we acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of capital stock of Monits S.A., an Argentina software development company. The objective of this acquisition was to enhance our software development capabilities.

In June 2016, we acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of capital stock of Axado, a company that develops logistic software for the e-commerce industry in Brazil.  The objective of this acquisition was to enhance our software development capabilities on Transportation Management System and contribute to our shipping business performance.

More recently, in December 2017 and October 2018, we acquired E-Commet Software Ltda., a Brazilian software development company, Kaitzen S.A. and Kinexo S.A. (K&K), Argentina software development companies, respectively, to enhance our software development capabilities. In addition, we acquired Machinalis S.R.L., an Argentine company that develops machine-learning tools, in September 2018 to enhance our machine-learning tools capabilities.

6


 

Our strategy

Our main focus is to serve people in Latin America by enabling wide access to retail and payments e-commerce services, providing compelling technology-based solutions that democratize commerce and money, thus contributing to the development of a large and growing digital economy in a region with a population of over 644 million people and one of the fastest-growing Internet penetration rates in the world.

We serve our buyers by giving them access to a broad and affordable variety of products and services, a selection we believe to be larger than otherwise available to them via other online and offline sources serving our Latin American markets. We believe we serve our sellers by giving them access to a larger and more geographically diverse user base at a lower overall cost and investment than offline venues serving our Latin American markets. Additionally, we provide payment settlement services to facilitate such transactions, and advertising solutions to promote them. We also serve our users by making capital more accessible through different credit products, fostering entrepreneurship and social mobility, with the goal of creating significant value for our stakeholders.

More broadly, we strive to make inefficient markets more efficient through technology and in that process generate value for our stockholders.

To achieve these objectives, we intend to pursue the following strategies:

·

Continue to improve shopping experience for our users. We intend to continually enhance our e-commerce ecosystem in order to better serve individuals, brands, retailers and other businesses that want to buy or sell goods and services online in a convenient, simple and safe way. We are committed to continue investing to develop new tools and technologies that facilitate web and mobile commerce on our platform. Within our constant focus on innovation, a key component of user experience is the vertical solutions we offer across key categories. We will continue to focus on improving the functionality of our websites and apps, building a verticalized experience in key categories, driving increased usage of our payments and shipping solutions to deliver a more efficient and safe shopping experience and providing our users with the help of a dedicated customer support department. We will continue to focus on increasing purchase frequency and transaction volumes from our existing users, including the development of our MercadoPuntos loyalty program for frequent buyers.

·

Continue to grow our business and maintain market leadership. We focus on growing our business, achieving as many scale-related competitive advantages and strengthening our position as a preferred commerce and payments platform in each of the markets in which we operate. We also intend to grow our business and maintain our leadership by taking advantage of the expanding potential user base that has resulted from the growth of Internet penetration rates in Latin America. We intend to achieve these goals through organic growth, by introducing our business in new countries and entering new category segments, by launching new transactional business lines, and through potential strategic acquisitions of key businesses and assets.

·

Expand into additional transactional service offerings. Our strategic focus is to enable online transactions of multiple types of goods and services throughout Latin America. Consequently, we strive, and will continue to strive, to launch online transactional offerings in new product and service categories where we believe business opportunities exist. These new transactional offerings include, but are not limited to, efforts involving: (a) offering additional product categories in our marketplace, (b) expanding our presence in vehicle, real estate and services classifieds, (c) maximizing utilization of MercadoPago on our platform and expanding off-platform in online and offline transactions, (d) maximize the value and usage of account money through investments in MercadoFondo ,(e)maximizing utilization of MercadoEnvios, (f) expanding our MercadoCredito service, (g) offering enterprise software solutions to our online commerce business clients and (h) expanding our advertising offerings. We believe that a significant portion of our growth will be derived from these new or expanded product and service launches in the future.

·

Increase monetization of our transactions. We focus on improving the revenue generation capacity of our business by implementing initiatives designed to maximize the revenues we generate from transactions on our platform. Some of these initiatives include increasing our fee structure, selling advertising on our platform, offering other e-commerce services and expanding our fee-based features.

·

Take advantage of the natural synergies that exist between our services. We strive to leverage our various services and our MercadoPuntos loyalty program, to promote greater cross-usage and synergies, thereby creating a fully integrated ecosystem of e-commerce offerings. Consequently, we will continue to promote the adoption of our MercadoEnvios logistics solution, our advertising solution, and our MercadoPago payments solution on our Marketplace.

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Enhanced Marketplace

Enhanced Marketplace is comprised of MercadoLibre Marketplace Service and MercadoEnvios Service:

MercadoLibre Marketplace Service

The MercadoLibre Marketplace is an online commerce platform where buyers and sellers can engage in transactions for a wide range of goods and services. We believe that the MercadoLibre Marketplace allows sellers to reach a large consumer audience more cost-effectively than through traditional offline commerce channels or other online venues serving our Latin American markets. Our platform is a fully-automated, topically- arranged and user-friendly online commerce service which permits both businesses and individuals to list items and conduct their sales and purchases online. Any Internet user can browse through the various products and services that are listed on our website and register for free with MercadoLibre to list or purchase items and services. Additionally, sellers and advertisers can purchase, display and link advertising on our websites to promote their brands, businesses and products. The MercadoLibre Marketplace offers buyers a large selection of new and used items that we believe are often more expensive or otherwise hard to find through traditional offline sellers, such as brick-and-mortar retail establishments, offline classified advertisements, community bulletin boards, auction houses and flea markets.

Our MercadoLibre Marketplace is on the same technological platform in each of our operating countries. However, each country has it own standalone website on the MercadoLibre platform. For example, searches carried out on our Brazilian site show only results of listings uploaded on our Brazilian site and do not show listings from other MercadoLibre webpages.

Additionally, we launched a loyalty program called “Mercado Puntos” in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. This program allows buyers to accumulate points for each purchase made on our platform, and grants access to certain benefits (i.e. free shipping services) as buyers advance through levels. 

MercadoEnvios Shipping Service

MercadoEnvios is a shipping service for marketplace users, available in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay. Through MercadoEnvios, we offer a cost-efficient integration with third-party logistics and shipping carriers to sellers on our platform as well as fulfillment and warehousing services. This program offers a uniform and seamlessly integrated shipping experience to buyers at competitive prices.  

Non-Marketplace Services

Non-Marketplace Services are comprised of our MercadoPago Service, MercadoLibre Classifieds Service, MercadoLibre Advertising Service,  MercadoShops Webstores Service and other anciliarry businesses:

MercadoPago

Payments Service

To complement the MercadoLibre Marketplace and also to enhance the user experience for our buyers and sellers, we developed MercadoPago in 2004, MercadoPago, an integrated online payments solution, was initially designed to facilitate transactions on MercadoLibre’s Marketplaces by providing a mechanism that allowed our users to securely, easily and promptly send and receive payments. Our payments solution enables any MercadoLibre registered user to securely and easily send and receive payments online and also to pay for purchases made on MercadoLibre’s Marketplaces. Currently, MercadoPago processes and settles all transactions on our Marketplaces in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Colombia, and is also available for our buyers and sellers in Perú and Uruguay.

Beyond facilitating Marketplace transactions over the years we have been expanding our array of MercadoPago services to third parties outside of MercadoLibre’s Marketplaces. We began by satisfying the growing demand for online-based payment solutions in Latin America through our merchant service usiness, providing the necessary digital payment infrastructure for e-commerce to flourish in Latin America. MercadoPago’s merchant service business allows merchants to facilitate checkout and payment processes on their websites through a branded or white label solution or software development kits, while also enabling users to simply transfer money to each other either through the website or using the MercadoPago app. Through MercadoPago we brought trust to the merchant-customer relationship, allowing online consumers to shop easily and safely, while giving them the confidence to share sensitive personal and financial data with us.

As we deployed our online-based payments solutions, we also observed that individuals, micro merchants and small and medium-sized enterprises’ (“SMEs”) in the physical world were being underserved or overlooked by incumbent payment providers and financial institutions in Latin America and that a very large number of retail transactions were settled in cash throughout the region. Consequently, we are now also aggressively deepening our payments offering by growing our online-to-offline (“O2O”) products and services. We envision MercadoPago as a powerful disruptive provider of inclusive end-to-end financial technology solutions that will generate financial inclusion to segments of the population that have been historically underserved and operate in the informal economy. Therefore, we currently offer in our main locations solutions for:

·

In-store physical payments by selling MPOS and quick response (“QR”) payment codes.

8


 

·

Digital payment solutions for utilities, mobile phone top up, peer-to-peer payments and more through our mobile wallet.

·

Pre-paid cards for users to spend and withdraw their account balances from their MercadoPago wallet, as well as co-branded credit cards in Argentina.

·

Merchant credits on and off the MercadoLibre Marketplace and Consumer Credits on the MercadoLibre Marketplace.

·

A money market fund to invest balances on MercadoPago accounts, which we market under the name MercadoFondo.

In July 2015 we began to expand our O2O payments offering by launching our MPOS initiative in Brazil, MercadoPago Point, which allows long-tail merchants, SMEs, and individuals not only to receive in-person payments, but most importantly to enable them to offer installments on the products and services they historically sold only in cash. Our MPOS solution allows merchants and individuals to process physical credit and debit cards, either by reading the chip and entering a personal identification number (PIN) or by swiping it. Our MPOS device was designed specifically to fit the needs of underserved or overlooked individuals and SMEs, as we do not require a rental fee for the device and offer a competitive transaction fee structure that gives them the flexibility to advance their sales. It also gives these users access to our full suite of FinTech solutions by integrating with the MercadoPago app and pre-paid card, without the needing a bank account. We subsequently launched our physical point-of-sale solution in Argentina and Mexico during 2016. 

The results of our MPOS business not only have been encouraging, but also has given us greater confidence that we are well positioned to capitalize on a large opportunity in payments and FinTech in the region. Since its launch, MercadoPago Point has already grown to represent almost 50% of our off-platform payment volume on a consolidated basis and, in Brazil total payment volume coming from MPOS devices has already twice surpassed the volume of our online merchant service business.

MercadoCredito

We launched MercadoCredito, our credit solution, during the fourth quarter of 2016 in Argentina and during 2017 in Brazil and Mexico. MercadoCredito leverages our user base, which is not only loyal and engaged, but also has been historically underserved or overlooked by financial institutions and suffers from a lack of access to needed credit. Facilitating credit is a key service overlay that enables us to further strengthen the engagement and lock-in rate of our users, while also generating additional touchpoints and incentives to use MercadoPago as an end-to-end financial solution. Initially, we began offering credit to our merchants given the distribution capabilities and in-depth understanding of their sales on the MercadoLibre Marketplace. This has also allowed us to develop our own proprietary credit risk models with unique data that differentiate our scoring from traditional financial institutions, as we are able to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms that we historically used for fraud prevention. Additionally, because our merchants’ business flows through MercadoPago, we are able to collect capital and interest payments from their existing sales on MercadoLibre’s Marketplaces, meaningfully reducing the risk of uncollectability on the loans we originate to our merchants.

Having identified a similar opportunity to fill a gap in terms of demand for credit, we have begun to originate working capital loans to merchants who adopt our MPOS solution. Merchant credit to MPOS merchants was launched in Argentina and Brazil during the second half of 2018.

Because a significant segment of the population in Latin America does not have access to credit cards, and given that the access to credit is a prohibitive factor for consumers when purchasing high-ticket items, we have also identified a significant opportunity for consumer lending. As such, we have begun to extend consumer credit to our buyers as well, leveraging their existing data on MercadoLibre’s Marketplaces and the distribution from our marketplace to proactively offer loans to them. Consumer credits were introduced in Argentina in 2017 and Brazil in 2018.

MercadoFondo

During the second half of 2018, we launched our asset management product for individuals in Argentina and for individuals and businesses in Brazil. This product is a critical pillar to building our alternative two-sided network vision. It incentivizes our users to begin to fund their digital wallets with cash as opposed to credit or debit cards given that the return our product offers is greater than that of traditional checking accounts.

With a seamless onboarding, this product allows users to withdraw and use the value stored in their digital wallets at any given time through QR code in-store payments, pre-paid cards, or cash withdrawn from an ATM, without requiring that their funds be trapped in a money market fund or a certificate of deposit to obtain an equivalent return.

This product is another way in which we continue to innovate, leveraging the rising trust in third-party e-commerce platforms and low levels of formal sector financial inclusion, which generate a unique opportunity for investment products aimed at users in Latin America who are unbanked or underbanked.

9


 

MercadoLibre Classifieds Service

The MercadoLibre Classifieds Service enables users to list their offerings related to motor vehicles, vessels, aircraft, real estate and services outside the Marketplace platform. Classifieds listings differ from Marketplace listings, as they only charge optional placement fees instead of final value fees. Our classifieds pages are also a major source of traffic to our website, benefitting both Marketplace and non-Marketplace businesses.

MercadoLibre Advertising Service

The MercadoLibre Advertising platform enables large retailers and various other consumer brands to promote their products and services on the Internet by providing branding and performance marketing solutions. Advertisers place product ads, display or banner advertisements in order to promote their brands and offerings on our webpages and our associated sites in the region. Advertisers can purchase improved search standing and/or specific categories, on a cost-per-click basis or per-impression basis. Our integrated advertising solutions allow brands to create the complete consumer discovery experience on our platform.  

MercadoShops Webstores Service

MercadoShops is a software-as-a-service, fully hosted online store solution. Through MercadoShops, users can set-up, manage and promote  their own webstores. These webstores are hosted by MercadoLibre and offer integration with the other marketplace and payment services we offer. Users can choose from a basic, free webstore or pay monthly subscriptions for enhanced functionality and added services on their webstores.

Marketing

Our marketing strategy is designed to grow our platform by promoting the Mercado Libre brand, attracting new users and generating more frequent trading by our existing users. To this end, we employ various means of advertising, including placement in leading online channels across Latin America, paid and organic positioning in leading search engines, email and push notification marketing, onsite marketing and presence in offline events. During 2018, we also carried out a complete coverage of promotional campaigns on commercial dates such as child’s day, mother’s day, father’s day, Christmas and dates specific to the e-commerce industry such as Hot Sale, Cybermonday and Black Friday. We also ran video advertisements in Mexico, Colombia and Chile designed to improve awareness of some of the functional attributes of our products such as free shipping (for qualifying purchases) and our buyer protection program. Our expenditures in marketing activities were $249.6 million during 2018, $175.2 million during 2017 and $72.0 million during 2016.

Product development and Technology

At December 31, 2018, we had 2,409 employees on our information technology and product development staff, an increase from 754 employees at December 31, 2017, due to new hires and as a consequence of improvements in our ecosystem products such as MercadoCredito, our loyalty pogram MercadoPuntos and MercadoEnvios, which increased our information technology and product development staff. We incurred product development expenses (including salaries) in the amount of $146.3 million in 2018, $127.2 million in 2017 and $98.5 million in 2016.

We continually work to improve both our MercadoLibre Marketplace and MercadoPago websites so that they better serve our users’ needs and function more efficiently. A significant portion of our information technology resources are allocated to these purposes. We strive to maintain the right balance between offering new features and enhancing the existing functionality and architecture of our software and hardware.

The adequate management of the MercadoLibre Marketplace and MercadoPago software architecture and hardware requirements is as important as introducing additional and better features for our users. Because our business has grown relatively fast, we must ensure that our systems are capable of absorbing this incremental volume. Therefore, our engineers work to optimize our processes and equipment by designing more effective ways to run our platform.

We develop most of our software technology in-house. We have a development center in Buenos Aires where we concentrate the majority of our development efforts and a center in the province of San Luis in Argentina, which is a collaborative effort with the Technological University of La Punta. In this effort, the University offers us access to dedicated development facilities and a recruiting base for potential employees. We also opened a development center in Aguada Park, Montevideo, Uruguay, that is dedicated to software development activities and development centers in the Provinces of Córdoba, Mendoza, Entre Rios and Santa Fe in Argentina. We also have other research and/or development centers in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

While we have developed most of our software technology in-house, we have made acquisitions in the past to enhance our software development capabilities, and we outsource certain projects to outside developers. We believe that outsourcing the development of certain projects allows us to have a greater operating capacity and strengthens our internal know-how by incorporating new expertise into our business. In addition, our developers frequently interact with technology suppliers and attend technology-related events to familiarize themselves with the latest inventions and developments in the field.

 We also rely on certain technologies that we license from third parties, suppliers of key database technology, operating system and specific hardware components for our services.

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Since 2010, we have been continuously working on a deep technology overhaul to switch from a closed and monolithic system to an open and decoupled one. We are splitting MercadoLibre into many small “cells”. A cell is a functional unit with its own team, hardware, data and source code. Cells interact with each other using Application Programming Interfaces, or API’s. All the Front-Ends are also being rewritten on top of these APIs. This effort has consumed a large amount of capital, people and management’s focus, and we intend to keep investing in this area. In October 2012, we opened our platform to the developer community during a launch event in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We seek to further open our platform to developers in the other locations in which we operate, with the objective of continuing to enhance our ecosystem.

We anticipate that we will continue to devote significant resources to product development in the future as we add new features and functionality to our services. The market in which we compete is characterized by rapidly changing and disruptive technologies, evolving industry and regulatory standards, frequent new service and product announcements, introductions and enhancements and changing customer demands. Accordingly, we believe the cornerstone of our future success will depend on our ability to adapt to rapidly changing technologies, to adapt our services to evolving industry and regulatory standards and to continually improve the performance, features, user experience and reliability of our services in response to competitive product and service offerings and evolving demands of the marketplace.

Seasonality

Like most retail businesses, we experience the effects of seasonality in all our operating territories throughout the calendar year. Although much of our seasonality is due to the Christmas holiday season, the geographic diversity of our operations helps mitigate the seasonality attributed to summer vacation time (i.e. southern and northern hemispheres) and national holidays.

Typically, the fourth quarter of the year is the strongest in every country where we operate due to the significant increase in transactions before the Christmas season (see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Seasonality” for more detail). The first quarter of the year is generally our slowest period. The months of January, February and March correspond to summer vacation time in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay. Additionally, the Easter holiday falls in March or April, and Brazil celebrates Carnival for one week in February or March. This first quarter seasonality is partially mitigated by our operations in the countries located in the northern hemisphere, such as Colombia and Mexico, the slowest months for which are the summer months of July, August and September. Lastly, commercial campaigns like Black Friday and Cyber Monday generate an increase in transactions.

Competition

The online commerce market is rapidly evolving and is highly competitive. We expect competition to intensify even further in the future. Barriers-to-entry for large, well-established Internet companies are relatively low, and current and new competitors can launch new sites at a relatively low cost using commercially available software. While we are currently a market leader in a number of the markets in which we operate, we currently or potentially could compete with marketplace operators, businesses that offer business-to-consumer online e-commerce services or others with a focus on specific vertical categories, as well as a growing number of brick and mortar retailers that have launched online offerings. Over the past few years, we have seen competition intensify not only as local players such as B2W or Magazine Luiza grow their ecommerce businesses, but also from international players such as Amazon which has been operating in Mexico since 2015 and more recently launched and expanded its online retailing business in Brazil

In the classifieds advertising market, we compete with regional and local players with general or verticalized focus. In addition, we face competition from a number of large online communities and services that have expertise in developing e-commerce, facilitating online interaction, or both. Other large companies with strong brand recognition and experience in e-commerce, such as large newspaper or media companies, also compete in the online listing market in Latin America.

MercadoPago competes with existing online and offline payment methods, including banks and other providers of traditional payment methods. MercadoPago also competes in the rapidly evolving FinTech space with local and strong global players that are becoming increasingly interested in Latin America.

Intellectual Property Rights

We regard the protection of our copyrights, service marks, trademarks, domain names, trade dress and trade secrets as critical to our future success and rely on a combination of copyright, trademark, service mark and trade secret laws and contractual restrictions to establish and protect our proprietary rights in our products and services. We have entered into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and certain contractors. We have also established non-disclosure agreements with our employees, strategic partners and some suppliers in order to limit access to and disclosure of our proprietary information.

We pursue the registration of our trademarks and service marks in each country in which we operate, in the United States, in the European Union, in China and in certain other Latin American countries. Generally, we pursue registration of the names and logos of “MercadoLibre,” “MercadoLivre,” “MercadoPago”, “MercadoEnvios”, “MercadoShops”, “MercadoCrédito” and “MercadoFondo”, and the names and logos specific to the country in which we are operating.

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As part of our acquisition of certain subsidiaries of DeRemate.com Inc. (or “DeRemate”) and Classified Media Group, Inc. (or “CMG”), we acquired the trademarks of DeRemate and CMG, respectively, throughout the countries where they operated as well as certain other jurisdictions. We also own trademarks of Autoplaza.com.mx and Homeshop.com.mx in Mexico. Additionally, we operate online classified advertisements platforms dedicated to the sale of real estate in Chile through the Portal Inmobiliario brand and in Mexico through the Metros Cúbicos brand. In 2015, we acquired Metros Cúbicos (merged into MercadoLibre, S. de R.L. de C.V. since December 2016), company dedicated to the sale of real estate in Mexico, and KPL Soluções Ltda. (merged into Ebazar since August 2015), a company that develops ERP software for the e-commerce industry in Brazil, owners of Metros Cubicos and KPL trademarks, respectively. During 2016, we acquired Axado, a company that develops logistic software for the e-commerce industry in Brazil, owner of Axado trademark. Finally, in 2017 we acquired Ecommet Software Ltda., owner of the trademarks “Ecommet” and “Becommerce”, which is a company that develops e-commerce related software and provides consulting services related thereto in Brazil.

We have licensed in the past, and expect that we may license in the future, certain of our proprietary rights, such as trademarks or copyrighted material, to third parties. While we attempt to ensure that our licensees maintain the quality of the MercadoLibre brand, our licensees may take actions that could materially adversely affect the value of our proprietary rights or reputation.

Third parties have from time to time claimed, and others may claim in the future, that we have infringed their intellectual property rights by allowing sellers to list certain items on MercadoLibre. See “Item 3. Legal Proceedings” and “Item 1A. Risk factors—Risks related to our business—We could face legal and financial liability for the sale of items that infringe on the intellectual property and distribution rights of others and for information disseminated on the MercadoLibre Marketplace” below.

Employees

The following table shows the number of our employees by country at December 31, 2018:





 

 

Country

  

Number of Employees

Argentina

  

3,315 

Brazil

  

2,113 

Uruguay

  

883 

Colombia

  

561 

Mexico

  

167 

Chile

  

162 

Venezuela

  

30 

Peru

 

Total

  

7,239 

We manage operations in the remaining countries in which we have operations remotely from our headquarters in Argentina.

Our employees in Brazil are represented by an Information Technology Companies Labor Union in the State of São Paulo (“Sindicato dos Trabalhadores nas Empresas e Cursos de Informática do Estado de São Paulo”) and some of our employees in Argentina are represented by the Commercial Labor Union (“Sindicato de Empleados de Comercio”). Unions or local regulations in other countries could also require that employees be represented. We consider our relations with our employees to be good and we implement a variety of human resources practices, programs and policies that are designed to hire, develop, compensate and retain our employees.

We are very proud of our employees and believe that our team is one of the most important assets of our Company. We believe that our employees are among the most knowledgeable in the Latin American high tech industry, and they have developed a deep understanding of our business and e-commerce in general. We believe we have been successful in attracting and retaining outstanding individuals over the years. Similarly, our future success will depend on our ability to continue to attract, develop and retain capable professionals. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors—Risks related to our business— We depend on key personnel, the loss of which could have a material adverse effect on us.”

Government regulation

We are subject to a variety of laws, decrees and regulations that affect companies conducting business on the Internet in some of the countries where we operate related to e-commerce, electronic payments, privacy, data protection, taxation (including value added taxes (“VAT”), or sales tax collection obligations), obligations to provide information to certain authorities about transactions occurring on our platform or about our users, anti money laundering regulations and other legislation which also applies to other companies conducting business in general. It is not clear how existing laws governing issues such as general commercial activities, property ownership, copyrights and other intellectual property issues, taxation, libel and defamation, obscenity, consumer protection, digital signatures and personal privacy apply to online businesses. Some of these laws were adopted before the Internet was available and, as a result, do not contemplate or address the unique issues of the Internet. Due to these areas of legal uncertainty, and the increasing popularity and use of the Internet and other online services, it is possible that new laws and regulations will be adopted with respect to the Internet or other online services. These regulations could cover a wide variety of issues, including, without limitation, online commerce, Internet service providers’ responsibility for third party content hosted in their servers, user privacy, electronic or mobile payments, freedom of expression, pricing, content and quality of products and services, taxation (including VAT or sales tax collection obligations, obligation to provide certain information about transactions that occurred through our platform, or about our users), advertising, intellectual property rights, consumer protection and information security.

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Our MercadoPago service is subject to regulation in the countries in which we operate, as described below:

Since 2013, we are subject to obligations in Brazil imposed on certain payment processing functions carried out by non-financial institutions. On November 1, 2018 we obtained the approval from the Central Bank of Brazil to operate as authorized payment institution, pursuant to its regulations and controls. The approval confirmed our ability to continue carrying out the payment processing functions.

With the Authorization Mercado Pago in Brazil will be subject to the supervision of the Central Bank of Brazil and must fully comply with all the obligations established in the current regulation, under penalty of (i) formal warning establishing a deadline for the remediation of non-compliance activity, (ii) pay penalties for non-compliance, or (iii) shut down our MercadoPago business in Brazil for an indefinite period of time, which would be costly.

During 2014 and 2015, Colombia enacted regulations which established specific requirements to open accounts and provide certain payment services, as well as policies for cash and risk management. In 2018 Colombia enacted further regulations requiring payment processors such as MercadoPago to comply with certain security, privacy and anti-money laundering standards. 

Uruguay and Peru have also enacted regulations that cover a wide variety of issues related to electronic payments or e-money, including, among other things, rules related to the requirement to obtain authorization from the relevant authority to operate, offer or provide certain payment services. 

In September 2016, we obtained the registration of our Uruguayan subsidiary before the Central Bank of Uruguay as an entity entitled to provide services of payments and collections. Thus, on November 1, 2016 MercadoPago was launched in Uruguay.

During 2017 and 2018, Chile enacted regulations regarding the issue and operation of paycards, which could affect MercadoPago’s operations, including authorization to operate, anti-money laundering obligations, capital and reserve fund requirements, operational and security safeguards among others. It is very likely that we will have to apply to obtain a license during 2019 to act as both payment card operator and issuer pursuant to the provisions of the above mentioned regulations.

In 2017, Mexico’s anti-competition regulatory commission began to investigate potential monopolistic practices across the e-commerce industry in an effort to ensure compliance with the Mexican anti-competition statute. As a market leader in the e-commerce industry in Mexico, we are complying fully with any inquries from the commission. We have not been named or implicated individually in any way.

In March 2018, Mexico enacted a law ruling FinTech institutions that applies to certain entities involved in online payments business and sets forth the obligations to request authorization to operate and to implement several changes to operations and systems. It is foreseeable that our MercadoPago business in Mexico will undergo regulatory proceedings during 2019 in order to become an authorized payment institution.

In the rest of the countries in which we operate we believe that the agency-based structure that we currently use for MercadoPago allows us to operate this service without obtaining any governmental authorizations or licenses or being regulated as a financial institution in the countries where we offer MercadoPago. However, as we continue to develop MercadoPago and, particularly, our peer-to-peer lending business we may need to secure governmental authorizations or licenses or comply with regulations applicable to financial institutions, electronic payments and/or anti-money laundering in the countries where we offer this service. In this regard, since November 2016 the Argentine subsidiary of the Company is registered before the Argentine anti-money laundering authority (“Unidad de Información Financiera”) as an entity subject to certain reporting obligations pursuant to anti-money laundering local regulations relating to prepaid card.

There are laws and regulations that address foreign currency and exchange rates in every country in which we operate. In certain countries where we operate, we need governmental authorization to pay invoices to a foreign supplier or send money abroad due to foreign exchange restrictions. See “Item 1A. Risk factors—Risks related to doing business in Latin America—Local currencies used in the conduct of our business are subject to depreciation, volatility and exchange controls” for more information.

We are also the beneficiary of certain tax regulations in various jurisdictions in which we operate.

The Argentine Ministry of Economy approved our main Argentina subsidiary as beneficiary of the Argentine Regime to promote the software industry. Benefits of receiving this status include a relief of 60% of total income tax related to software development activities and a 70% relief in payroll taxes related to software development activities. See Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data-Note 2-Summary of significant accounting policies-Income and asset taxes.”

We are also subject to significant data protection and privacy-related regulations in many of the jurisdictions in which we operate. Further, some jurisdictions in which we operate are considering imposing additional restrictions or regulations.

In August 2016, we acquired 6,057 square meters and 50 parking spaces in an office building in process of construction located in Buenos Aires, for a total amount of $31.4 million. In connection with this acquisition, we obtained a preliminary approval that allows us to defer during a 2-year period payments of sales tax in the City of Buenos Aires up to the amounts disbursed for the building. These deferred payments will be extinguished (i.e. as tax reliefs) upon receiving definitive approval from the City of Buenos Aires government within that 2-year period, which is now tolling.

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In November 2018, MercadoLibre, Inc., in accordance with to Resolution n° 4.222, issued by the National Monetary Council ("CMN"), and Circulars 3.649 and 3.317, issued by the Central Bank of Brazil, filed with the Central Bank an application for authorization to set up a financial institution in the modality of Savings and Loan Associations (“Sociedade de Crédito Financiamento e Investimento – SCFI”), to be controlled by MercadoLibre, Inc. 

The purpose of this new company (which will be a financial institution in Brazil) will be to absorb the activities related to the granting of MercadoCredito loans in a more efficient and profitable way. The current lending structure in Brazil is carried out via a correspondent banking agreement with partner financial institutions, since the activity of lending money directly is exclusive to a financial institution.

Segment and Geographic Information

For an analysis of financial information about our segments, see “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Reporting Segments and Geographic Information”, “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Description of Line Items—Net revenues” and Note 7, Segments to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report and incorporated by reference in this Item 1.

Offices

We are a Delaware corporation incorporated on October 15, 1999. Our registered office is located at 874 Walker Road, Suite C, Dover, Delaware. Our principal executive offices are located at Arias 3751, 7th Floor, Buenos Aires, Argentina, C1430CRG.

Available Information

Our Internet address is www.mercadolibre.com. Our investor relations website is investor.mercadolibre.com. We make available free of charge through our website our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to the SEC. Our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and the charters of the Audit Committee, the Compensation and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee are also available on our website and are available in print to any stockholder upon request in writing to MercadoLibre, Inc., Attention: Investor Relations, Arias 3751, 7th floor, Buenos Aires, Argentina, C1430CRG. Information on or connected to our website is neither part of nor incorporated into this report on Form 10-K or any other SEC filings we make from time to time.

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ITEM 1A.

RISK FACTORS

For purposes of this section, the term “stockholders” means the holders of shares of our common stock. Set forth below are the risks that we believe are material to our stockholders and prospective stockholders. You should carefully consider the following factors in evaluating our company, our properties and our business. The occurrence of any of the following risks might cause our stockholders to lose all or a part of their investment in our Company. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones facing us. Other risks that we do not currently anticipate or that we currently deem immaterial also may affect our results of operations and financial condition. Some statements in this report including statements in the following risk factors section constitute forward-looking statements. Please refer to the section entitled “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” at the beginning of this report.

Risks related to our business

Our business depends on the continued growth of online commerce and the availability and reliability of the Internet in Latin America.

The market for online commerce is still a developing market in Latin America. Our future revenues depend substantially on Latin American consumers’ widespread acceptance and continued use of the Internet as a way to conduct commerce. The use of and interest in the Internet (particularly as a way to conduct commerce) has grown rapidly since our inception and we cannot assure you that this acceptance, interest and use will continue or continue to grow. For us to grow our user base successfully, more consumers must accept and use new ways of conducting business and exchanging information. The price of personal computers and/or mobile devices and Internet access may limit our potential growth in certain areas or countries with low levels of Internet penetration and/or high levels of poverty. The infrastructure for the Internet in Latin Americamay not be able to support continued growth in the number of Internet users, their frequency of use or their bandwidth requirements.

In addition, the Internet could lose its viability due to delays in telecommunications technological developments, or due to increased government regulation. Availability, transaction speeds, acceptance, interest and use of the Internet are all critical to our growth and services and the occurrence of any one or more the above challenges to Internet usage could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Our future success depends on our ability to expand and adapt our operations to meet rapidly changing industry and technology standards in a cost-effective and timely manner.

We plan to continue to expand our operations by developing and promoting new and complementary services. We may not succeed at expanding our operations in a cost-effective or timely manner, and our expansion efforts may not have the same or greater overall market acceptance as our current services. Furthermore, any new business or service that we launch that is not favorably received by consumers could damage our reputation and diminish the value of our brands. To expand our operations we will also need to spend significant amounts on development, operations and other resources, and this may place a strain on our management, financial and operational resources. Similarly, a lack of market acceptance of these services or our inability to generate satisfactory revenues from any expanded services to offset their cost could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Any delay or problem with operating or upgrading our existing information technology infrastructure could cause a disruption in our business and adversely impact our financial results.

Our ability to operate our business on a day-to-day basis largely depends on the efficient operation of our information technology infrastructure and our cloud providers. We have been and are susceptible to hacking into our systems or other security breaches by unauthorized third parties. We are also susceptible to errors in connection with any systems upgrade or migration to a different hardware or software system, errors or incidents of our cloud providers, and any such errors or interruptions could impede or delay our ability to process transactions on our site, which could reduce our revenue from activity on our site and adversely affect our reputation with, or result in the loss of users.

Substantially all of our computer hardware for operating the MercadoLibre Marketplace and MercadoPago services is currently located at the facilities of the Savvis Datacenter in Sterling, Virginia, with a backup database in Atlanta, Georgia. These systems and operations are vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, fires and other natural disasters, power loss, computer viruses, telecommunication failures, physical or electronic break-ins, sabotage, intentional acts of vandalism, terrorism, and similar events.

The providers could also determine to close the facilities. We also have no formal disaster recovery plan or alternative providers of hosting services. In addition, we may have inadequate insurance coverage to compensate for any related losses. Any errors, interruptions, delays or cessation of service could result in significant disruptions to our business that could ultimately be more expensive, time consuming, and resource intensive than anticipated. Defects or disruptions in our technology infrastructure could adversely impact our ability to process transactions, our financial results and our reputation.

Internet regulation in the countries where we operate is scarce, and several legal issues related to the Internet are uncertain.

Many of the countries where we operate do not have specific laws governing the liability of Internet service providers, such as ourselves, for fraud, intellectual property infringement, by us our third-party users of our services, illegal activities, third-party users of our services or other activity conducted over our platforms.

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Existing laws, decrees and regulations in some of the countries where we operate related to e-commerce, electronic or mobile payments, information requirements for Internet providers, data collection, data protection, privacy, anti-money laundering, taxation (including VAT or sales tax witholdings), obligations to provide certain information to certain authorities about transactions which are processed through our platforms or about our users and those regulations applicable to consumer protection and businesses in general also may not specifically address how they are to be applied to our type of Internet-based operations.This legal uncertainty could negatively affect our clients’ perception and use of our services and could result in significant expense should we have to defend cases in an unclear legal environment. It is also possible that new laws and regulations will be adopted with respect to the Internet or other online services that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation and financial condition.

Countries may enact laws or regulations that could adversely affect how we operate one or more of our businesses in those jurisdictions.

As our activities and the types of goods listed on our website expand, regulatory agencies or courts may argue or rule that we or our users must either obtain licenses or not be allowed to conduct business in their jurisdiction, either with respect to our services in general or only relating to certain items, such as auctions, real estate and motor vehicles. Attempted enforcement of these laws against us or our users and other regulatory and licensing claims could result in expensive litigation or could require us to change the way we or our users do business. Any changes in our or our users’ business methods could increase costs or reduce revenues or force us to prohibit listings of certain items for some locations. We could also be subject to fines or penalties, and any of these outcomes could harm our business.

In addition, our operations in most of the countries where we operate are subject to risks related to compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other applicable U.S. and other local laws prohibiting corrupt payments to government officials and other third parties.

Because our services are accessible worldwide and we facilitate sales of goods to users worldwide, certain foreign jurisdictions may claim that we are required to comply with their laws. As we expand and localize our international activities, we have to comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate. Laws regulating Internet companies outside of the Latin American jurisdictions where we operate may be more restrictive to us than those in Latin America. In order to comply with these laws, we may have to change our business practices or restrict our services. We could be subject to penalties ranging from criminal prosecution, significant fines or outright bans on our services for failure to comply with foreign laws.

We are subject to significant privacy-related regulations in many of the jurisdictions in which we operate and we expect the number of those regulations applicable to us to increase.

We are subject to laws relating to the collection, use, storage and transfer of personally identifiable information about our users, especially financial information. Several jurisdictions already have regulations in this area, others are considering imposing additional restrictions or regulations. If we violate these laws, which in many cases apply not only to third-party transactions but also to transfers of information among ourselves, our subsidiaries, and other parties with which we have commercial relations, we could be subject to significant penalties and negative publicity, which would adversely affect us.

We are subject to regulations and potential litigation under competition laws.

We receive scrutiny from various governmental agencies under competition laws in the countries where we operate. Some jurisdictions also provide private rights of action for competitors or consumers to assert claims of anti-competitive conduct. Other companies or governmental agencies may allege that our actions violate antitrust or competition laws, or otherwise constitute unfair competition. Contractual agreements with buyers, sellers, or other companies could give rise to regulatory action or antitrust investigations or litigation. Also, our business practices could give rise to regulatory action or antitrust investigations or litigation. Some regulators may perceive our business to have such significant market power that otherwise uncontroversial business practices could be deemed anticompetitive. Such claims and investigations, even if without foundation, typically are very expensive to defend, involve negative publicity and substantial diversion of Management time and effort, and could result in significant judgments against us. 

Our business is an Internet platform for commercial transactions in which all commercial activity depends on our users and is therefore largely outside of our control.

Our business is dependent on users listing and purchasing items and services on our platform. We depend on the commercial activity that our users generate. We do not choose which items will be listed, nor do we make pricing or other decisions relating to the products and services bought and sold on our platform. Therefore, the principal drivers of our business are largely outside of our control, and we depend on the continued preference for our platform by millions of individual users. 

We could face liability for the sale of regulated and prohibited items.

Laws specifying the scope of liability of providers of online services for the activities of their users through their online service are currently unsettled in most of the Latin American countries where we operate. We have implemented what we believe to be clear policies that are incorporated in our terms of use that prohibit the sale of certain items on our platform and have implemented programs to monitor and exclude unlawful goods and services. Despite these efforts, we may be unable to prevent our users from exchanging unlawful goods or services or exchanging goods in an unlawful manner, and we may be subject to allegations of civil or criminal liability for the unlawful activities of these users.

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More specifically, we are aware that certain goods, such as alcohol, tobacco, firearms, animals, adult material and other goods that may be subject to regulation by local or national authorities of various jurisdictions have been traded on the MercadoLibre Marketplace. As a consequence of these transactions, appropriate authorities may impose fines against us. We have at times been subject to fines in Brazil for certain users’ sales of products that have not been approved by the government. We cannot provide any assurances that we will successfully avoid civil or criminal liability for unlawful activities that our users carry out through our platforms in the future. If we suffer potential liability for any unlawful activities of our users, we may need to implement additional measures to reduce our exposure to this liability, which may require, among other things, that we spend substantial resources and/or discontinue certain service offerings. Any costs that we incur as a result of this liability or asserted liability could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Users of our services could file complaints, which could result in harm to our reputation, inquiries from regulators or actions against us.

Government and consumer protection agencies have in the past received a substantial number of complaints about both the MercadoLibre Marketplace and MercadoPago. These complaints are small as a percentage of our total transactions, but they could become large in aggregate numbers over time. From time to time, we are involved in disputes or regulatory inquiries that arise in the ordinary course of business. The number and significance of these disputes and inquiries have increased as our business has expanded and our Company has grown larger. We are likely to receive new inquiries from regulatory agencies in the future, which may lead to actions against us. We have responded to inquiries from regulatory agencies and described our services and operating procedures and have provided requested information. If one or more of these agencies is not satisfied with our response to current or future inquiries, we could be subject to enforcement actions, injunctions, fines or penalties, or forced to change our operating practices in ways that could harm our business, or if during these inquiries any of our processes are found to violate laws on consumer protection, or to constitute unfair business practices, we could be subject to civil damages, enforcement actions, fines or penalties. Such actions or fines could require us to restructure our business processes in ways that would harm our business and cause us to incur substantial costs.

We may be liable for or experience reputational damage from the failure of users of our Marketplace to deliver merchandise or make required payments.

Our success depends largely upon sellers accurately representing and reliably delivering the listed goods and buyers paying the agreed purchase price. We have received in the past, and anticipate that we will receive in the future, complaints from users who did not receive the purchase price or the goods agreed to be exchanged. While we can suspend the accounts of users who fail to fulfill their delivery obligations to other users, we do not have the ability to force users to make payments or deliver goods sold. We also receive complaints from buyers regarding the quality of the goods purchased or the partial or non-delivery of purchased items. We have tried to reduce our liability to buyers for unfulfilled transactions or other claims related to the quality of the purchased goods by offering a free Buyer Protection Program to buyers who meet certain conditions. We may in the future receive additional requests from users requesting reimbursement or threatening legal action against us if we do not reimburse them, the result of which could materially adversely affect our business and financial condition. In addition, we may be liable in Brazil under applicable regulation for fraud committed by sellers and losses incurred by buyers when purchasing items through our platform in Brazil. We have expanded the coverage of our Buyer’s Protection Program and this coverage expansion may impact the number and amount of reimbursements we are required to make. Effective customer service requires significant personnel expense and investment in developing programs and technology infrastructure to help customer service representatives carry out their functions. These expenses, if not managed properly, could significantly impact our profitability. Failure to manage or train our customer service representatives properly could compromise our ability to handle customer complaints effectively. If we do not handle customer complaints effectively, our reputation may suffer and we may lose our customers’ confidence.

Any litigation related to unpaid or undelivered purchases or defective items could be expensive for us, divert Management’s attention and could result in increased costs of doing business. In addition, any negative publicity generated as a result of the fraudulent or deceptive conduct of any of our users could damage our reputation, diminish the value of our brands and negatively impact our results of operations.

Our users may be the target of “phishing” emails or other intrusions that could subject us to investigations or liability.

Our users have been and will continue to be targeted by parties using fraudulent “spoof” and “phishing” emails that appear to be legitimate emails sent by MercadoLibre or MercadoPago or by a user of one of our businesses, but direct recipients to fake websites operated by the sender of the email or misstates that certain payment was credited in MercadoPago and request that the recipient send the product sold or send a password or other confidential information. Despite our efforts to mitigate “spoof” and “phishing” emails, those activities could damage our reputation and diminish the value of our brands or discourage use of our websites and increase our costs.

We have received in the past, and anticipate that we will receive in the future, claims from users who received spoof emails and sent the product and did not receive the purchase price.

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We could face legal and financial liability for the sale of items that infringe on the intellectual property and distribution rights of others and for information disseminated on the MercadoLibre Marketplace.

Even though our terms of use clearly prohibit the sale of counterfeit items or any items infringing upon third parties’ intellectual property rights on our platform and we have implemented solutions to exclude goods and services that have been determined to violate our term of use, we are not able to detect and remove every item that may infringe on the intellectual property rights of third parties. As a result, we have received in the past, and anticipate that we will receive in the future, complaints alleging that certain items listed and/or sold through the MercadoLibre Marketplace or MercadoShops and/or using MercadoPago infringe third-party copyrights, trademarks or other intellectual property rights. Content owners and other intellectual property rights owners have been active in defending their rights against online companies, including us. We have taken steps to work in coordination and cooperation with the intellectual property rights owners to seek to eliminate allegedly infringing items listed in the MercadoLibre Marketplace. Our user policy prohibits the sale of goods which may infringe third-party intellectual property rights, and we may suspend the account of any user who infringes third-party intellectual property rights. Additionally, we provide intellectual property rights owners with resources through our Intellectual Property Protection Program (or “IPPP”), to enforce their rights against cuestionable listings. Despite all these measures some rights owners have expressed that our efforts are insufficient. Content owners and other intellectual property rights owners have been active in asserting their purported rights against online companies. We have received in the past, and anticipate that we will continue to receive legal claims from intellectual property owners alleging violations of their rights.

While we have been largely successful to date in settling existing claims, the current absence of regulation related to the Internet in some of the countries where we operate results in great uncertainty as to the outcome of any future claims. Other companies providing similar services have also been subject to these types of claims in the United States and other countries. We cannot assure you that we will not be subject to similar suits, which could result in substantial monetary awards or penalties and costly injunctions against us.

We are subject to risks with respect to information and material disseminated through our platforms.

It is possible that third parties could bring claims against us for defamation, libel, invasion of privacy, negligence, or other theories based on the nature and content of the materials disseminated through our platforms, particularly materials disseminated by our users. Other online services companies are facing several lawsuits for this type of liability. If we or other online services providers are held liable or potentially liable for information carried on or disseminated through our platforms, we may have to implement measures to reduce our exposure to this liability. Any measures we may need to implement may involve spending substantial resources and/or discontinuing certain services. Any costs that we incur as a result of liability or asserted liability could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, public attention to liability issues, lawsuits and legislative proposals could impact the growth of Internet usage, and subsequently have a negative impact on our business results.

The market in which we operate is rapidly evolving and we may not be able to maintain our profitability.

As a result of the emerging nature and related volatility of the markets and economies in the countries in which we compete, the increased variety of services offered on our website and the rapidly evolving nature of our business, it is particularly difficult for us to forecast our revenues or earnings accurately. In addition, we have no backlog and substantially all of our net revenues for each quarter are derived from listing fees, optional feature fees, up-front fees, final value fees, commissions on MercadoPago payments, finance and interest fees, shipping fees and advertising that are earned during that quarter. Our current and future expense levels are based largely on our investment plans and estimates of future revenues and are, to a large extent, fixed. We may not be able to adjust spending in a timely manner to compensate for any unexpected revenue shortfall. Accordingly, any significant shortfall in revenues relative to our planned expenditures would have an immediate adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We have strategic plans in place that we expect will increase costs in the future, and which we currently estimate will adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition and delay our return to profitability.

We continue to invest in two recent initiatives that complement the suite of products and services we offer buyers and sellers on our Marketplace. The first initiative consists of a cross-docking and fulfillment service that will permit us to engage third-party carriers to pick up sold products from seller locations, transport those products to a centralized warehouse leased by us for packaging, and coordinate subsequent delivery to the buyer’s selected location via third-party shipping services. We expect to incur increased shipping and warehousing costs in connection with these cross-docking and fulfillment services.

Our mobile wallet payments network is an offline payments network based on “quick response” (or QR) code technology, through which we facilitate efficient, cashless transactions for buyers on our marketplace. In order to develop this network, we are providing financial incentives to encourage buyers to use it. We may do incur increased costs in connection with the implementation of a mobile wallet payments network in the form of incremental advertising expenses, QR kit distribution costs and other marketing expenditures, among others. The implementation of the shipping initiatives and the mobile wallet payments network resulted in increased costs and will continue to result in increased costs in the near future. We currently estimate these increased costs to have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition and further delay our return to profitability.

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If we continue to grow, we may not be able to appropriately manage the increased size of our business.

We have experienced significant expansion in recent years and anticipate that further expansion will be required to address potential growth in our customer base and market opportunities. This expansion has placed, and is expected to continue to place, a significant strain on management and our operational and financial resources.

We must constantly add new hardware, update software, enhance and improve our billing and transaction systems, and add and train new engineering and other personnel to accommodate the increased use of our website and the new products and features we regularly introduce. This upgrade process is expensive, and the increasing complexity and enhancement of our website results in higher costs. Failure to upgrade our technology, features, transaction processing systems, security infrastructure, or network infrastructure to accommodate increased traffic or transaction volume or the increased complexity of our website could materially harm our business. Adverse consequences could include unanticipated system disruptions, slower response times, degradation in levels of customer support, impaired quality of users’ experiences with our services and delays in reporting accurate financial information.

Our revenues depend on prompt and accurate billing processes. Our failure to grow our transaction-processing capabilities to accommodate the increasing number of transactions that must be billed on our website would materially harm our business and our ability to collect revenue.

Furthermore, we may need to enter into relationships with various strategic partners, websites and other online service providers and other third parties necessary to our business. The increased complexity of managing multiple commercial relationships could lead to execution problems that can affect current and future revenues and operating margins.

Our current and planned systems, procedures and controls, personnel and third party relationships may not be adequate to support our future operations. Our failure to manage growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We are subject to security breaches or other confidential data theft from our systems, which can adversely affect our reputation and business.

A significant risk associated with e-commerce and communications is the secure transmission of confidential information over public networks. Currently, the majority of MercadoLibre users authorize us to bill their credit card accounts or debit their bank accounts directly, or use MercadoPago to pay for their transactions. Our business involves the collection, storage, processing and transmission of customers’ personal data, including financial information. We rely on encryption and authentication necessary to provide the security and authentication technology to transmit confidential information securely, including customer credit card numbers and other account information. Advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography, or other events or developments may result in a compromise or breach of the technology that we use to protect customer transaction data.

The techniques used to obtain unauthorized, improper or illegal access to our systems, our data or our customers’ data, to disable or degrade service, or to sabotage systems are constantly evolving, may be difficult to detect quickly, and often are not recognized until launched against a target. Unauthorized parties have and may continue to attempt to gain access to our systems or facilities through various means, including, among others, hacking into our systems or those of our customers, partners or vendors, or attempting to fraudulently induce our employees, customers, partners, vendors or other users of our systems into disclosing user names, passwords, payment card information or other sensitive information, which may in turn be used to access our information technology systems. Although we have developed systems and processes that are designed to protect our data and customer data and to prevent data loss and other security breaches, these security measures cannot provide absolute security. Our information technology and infrastructure have and may continue to be vulnerable to cyberattacks or security breaches, and third parties may be able to access our customers’ personal or proprietary information and card data that are stored on or accessible through those systems. Our security measures may also be breached due to human error, malfeasance, system errors or vulnerabilities, or other irregularities.

Actual or perceived vulnerabilities or data breaches may lead to claims against us. We also expect to spend significant additional resources to protect against security or privacy breaches, and may be required to address problems caused by breaches. Additionally, while we maintain insurance policies, our current insurance policies may not be adequate to reimburse us for losses caused by security breaches, and we may not be able to collect fully, if at all, under these insurance policies. Some of our systems have experienced past security breaches and, although they did not have a material adverse effect on our operating results or reputation, there can be no assurance of a similar result in the future. We cannot assure you that our security measures will prevent security breaches or that failure to prevent them will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and reputation. In addition, any breaches of network or data security at our customers, partners or vendors could have similar negative effects.

We depend on key personnel, the loss of which could have a material adverse effect on us.

Our performance depends substantially on the continued services and on the performance of our senior management and other key personnel. Our ability to retain and motivate these and other officers and employees is fundamental to our performance.

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Many of most senior executive officers have been with us since 2000 or before, providing us with a stable and experienced management team. The loss of the services of any of these executive officers or other key employees could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. We do not have employment agreements with any of our key technical personnel other than our senior executives (whose agreements are for an undetermined period and establish general employment terms and conditions) and maintain no “key person” life insurance policies. The option grants to most of our senior management and key employees are fully vested. Therefore, these employees may not have sufficient financial incentive to stay with us. Consequently we may have to incur costs to replace key employees who leave our Company and our ability to execute our business model could be impaired if we cannot replace them in a timely manner.

Our future success also depends on our ability to identify, attract, hire, train, retain and motivate other highly skilled technical, managerial, marketing and customer service personnel. Competition for these personnel is intense, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully attract, integrate, train, retain, motivate and manage sufficiently qualified personnel.

Currently our revenues depend substantially on final value fees, up-front fees and fees related to our payment solution and such revenues may decrease if market conditions force us to lower such fees or if we fail to diversify our sources of revenue.

Our revenues currently depend primarily on final value fees related to our payment solution, and placement fees that we charge to our sellers upon selling their items and services or for listing products for sale. Our platform depends upon providing access to a large market at a lower cost than other comparable alternatives. If market conditions force us to substantially lower our final value fees or fees related to our payment solution or if we fail to continue to attract new buyers and sellers, and if we are unable to effectively diversify and expand our sources of revenue, our profitability, results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.

We are subject to consumer trends and could lose revenue if certain items become less popular.

Our future revenues depend on continued demand for the types of goods that users list on the MercadoLibre Marketplace or pay with MercadoPago on or off the MercadoLibre Marketplace. The popularity of certain categories of items, such as computer and electronic products, cellular telephones, toys, apparel and sporting goods, among consumers may vary over time due to perceived availability, subjective value, and trends of consumers and society in general. A decline in the demand for or popularity of certain items sold through the MercadoLibre Marketplace without an increase in demand for different items could reduce the overall volume of transactions on our platforms, resulting in reduced revenues.

In addition, certain consumer “fads” may temporarily inflate the volume of certain types of items listed on the MercadoLibre Marketplace, placing a significant strain on our infrastructure and transaction capacity. These trends may also cause significant fluctuations in our operating results from one quarter to the next.

Manufacturers may limit distribution of their products by  dealers, or prevent dealers from selling through us or may encourage the government to limit e-commerce.

Manufacturers may attempt to enforce minimum resale price maintenance arrangements to prevent distributors from selling on our websites or on the Internet generally, or at prices that would make our site attractive relative to other alternatives. Increased competition or anti-Internet distribution policies could result in reduced operating margins, loss of market share and diminished value of our brand. In order to respond to changes in the competitive environment, we may, from time to time, make pricing, service or marketing decisions or acquisitions that may be controversial with and lead to dissatisfaction among some of our sellers, which could reduce activity on our websites and harm our profitability.

The success of other e-commerce companies such as eBay or Amazon is not an indication of our future financial performance.

Several companies that operate e-commerce websites, such as eBay or Amazon, have been successful and profitable in the past. However, we operate in a business environment in Latin America that is different than the environment in which eBay, Amazon and other e-commerce companies that operate, which are primarily comprised of markets outside of Latin America. These differences include the smaller size of the national markets, lower Internet adoption rates, lower confidence in remote payment mechanisms, less reliable postal and parcel services, and less predictable political, economic regulatory and legal environments in Latin America. Therefore, you should not interpret the success of any of these companies as indicative of our financial prospects.

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We could be subject to liability and forced to change our MercadoPago business practices if we were found to be subject to or in violation of any laws or regulations governing banking, money transmission, tax regulation, anti-money laundering regulations or electronic funds transfers in any country where we operate; or if new legislation regarding these issues were enacted in the countries where MercadoPago operates.

A number of jurisdictions where we operate have enacted legislation regulating money transmitters and/or electronic payments or funds transfers. We believe we do not require a license under the existing statutes of Argentina, Perú and Colombia to operate MercadoPago in those countries with MercadoPago’s current agency-based structure. If our operation of MercadoPago were found to be in violation of money services laws or regulations or any tax or anti-money laundering regulations, or engaged in an unauthorized banking or financial business, we could be subject to liability, forced to cease doing business with residents of certain countries, or forced to change our business practices or to become a financial entity. Any change to our MercadoPago business practices that makes the service less attractive to customers or prohibits its use by residents of a particular jurisdiction could decrease the speed of trade on the MercadoLibre Marketplace, which would further harm our business. Even if we are not forced to change our MercadoPago business practices, we could be required to obtain licenses or regulatory approvals that could be very expensive and time consuming, and we cannot assure that we would be able to obtain these licenses in a timely manner or at all.

We are already subject to regulation in Brazil, and could be subject in the short term to new regulations in Mexico, Colombia and Chile, which would require us to obtain regulatory authorizations to operate MercadoPago. The failure to obtain any such authorization, or the loss of the existing authorizations could cause us to (i) shut down our MercadoPago business in the relevant jurisdiction for an indefinite period of time, which would be costly and time consuming, (ii) pay penalties for non-compliance or face other penalties such as the dismantling of MercadoPago and/or (iii) limit the services we offer through MercadoPago in the relevant jurisdiction or change our business practices, any of which could materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.

MercadoPago is susceptible to illegal uses, and we could potentially face liability for any illegal use of MercadoPago.

MercadoPago is susceptible to potentially illegal or improper uses, including, fraudulent and illicit sales, money laundering, bank fraud and online securities fraud. In addition, MercadoPago’s service could be subject to unauthorized credit card use, identity theft, break-ins to withdraw account balances, employee fraud or other internal security breaches, and we may be required to reimburse customers for any funds stolen as a result of such breaches. Merchants could also request reimbursement, or stop using MercadoPago, if they are affected by buyer fraud.

We incur losses from claims of customers who did not authorize a purchase, from buyer fraud and from erroneous transmissions. In addition to the direct costs of such losses, if they are related to credit card transactions and become excessive, they could result in MercadoPago losing the right to accept credit cards for payment. If MercadoPago is unable to accept credit cards, our business will be adversely affected given that credit cards are the most widely used method for funding MercadoPago accounts. We have taken measures to detect and reduce the risk of fraud on MercadoPago, such as running card security code (“CSC”) checks in some countries, having users call us to have them answer personal questions to confirm their identity or asking users to confirm the amount of a small debit for higher risk transactions, implementing caps on overall spending per users and data mining to detect potentially fraudulent transactions. However, these measures may not be effective against current and new forms of fraud. If these measures do not succeed, excessive charge-backs may arise in the future and our business will be adversely affected.

Compliance with anti-money laundering regulations could be costly for us and failure to comply could affect our results of operations.

MercadoPago is or may be subject to anti-money laundering laws and regulations that prohibit, among other things, its involvement in transferring the proceeds of criminal activities or impose taxes collection obligations or obligations to provide certain information about transactions that have occurred in our platforms, or about our users. Because laws and regulations differ in each of the jurisdictions where we operate, as we roll-out and adapt MercadoPago in other countries, additional verification and reporting requirements could apply. These regulations could impose significant costs on us and make it more difficult for new customers to join the MercadoPago network. Future regulation, may require us to learn more about the identity of our MercadoPago customers before opening an account, to obtain additional verification of customers and to monitor our customers’ activities more closely. These requirements, as well as any additional restrictions imposed by credit card associations, could raise our MercadoPago costs significantly and reduce the attractiveness of MercadoPago. Failure to comply with money laundering laws could result in significant criminal and civil lawsuits, penalties, and forfeiture of significant assets.

Our failure to manage MercadoPago customer funds properly would harm our business.

Our ability to manage and account accurately for MercadoPago customer funds requires a high level of internal controls. As MercadoPago continues to grow, we must strengthen our internal controls accordingly. MercadoPago’s success requires significant public confidence in our ability to handle large and growing transaction volumes and amounts of customer funds. Any failure to maintain necessary controls or to properly manage customer funds could severely reduce customer use of MercadoPago.

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MercadoPago faces competition from other payment methods, and competitors may adversely affect MercadoPago’s success.

MercadoPago competes with existing online and offline payment methods, including, among others, banks and other providers of financial services, particularly credit and debit cards, checks, money orders, and electronic bank deposits; international online payments services such as PayPal and Google Checkout, and local online payment services such as PayU in Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, and Bcash, PagSeguro and MOIP in Brazil and Conecta in Mexico; the use of cash, which is often preferred in Latin America; and offline funding alternatives such as cash deposit and money transfer services, person-to-person payment services and mobile card readers such as Todo Pago in Argentina, PagSeguro, Payleven SumUp and Izettle in Brazil and Clip Sr, Pago, Billpocket and iZettle in Mexico. Some of these services may operate at lower commission rates than MercadoPago’s current rates and, accordingly, we are subject to market pressures with respect to the commissions we charge for MercadoPago services. 

MercadoPago’s competitors may respond to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements faster and more effectively. They may devote greater resources to the development, promotion, and sale of products and services. Competing services tied to established banks and other financial institutions may offer greater liquidity and create greater consumer confidence in the safety and efficacy of their services. Established banks and other financial institutions currently offer online payments and those which do not yet provide such a service could quickly and easily develop it, including mobile phone carriers.

We are also charging a single final value fee for the right to use MercadoLibre Marketplace services and MercadoPago Payment services, jointly. This may result in a lower combined take rate, which could adversely affect our business.

We continue to expand MercadoPago’s services internationally. We have no experience with MercadoPago in Bolivia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Nicaragua or Salvador. The introduction of MercadoPago in certain new markets may require a close commercial relationship with one or more local banks or other intermediaries. These or other factors may prevent, delay or limit our introduction of MercadoPago in other countries, or reduce its profitability.

We rely on banks or payment processors to fund transactions, and changes to credit card association fees, rules or practices may adversely affect our business.

Because MercadoPago is not a bank, we cannot belong to or directly access credit and debit card associations, such as Visa and MasterCard. As a result, we must rely on banks or payment processors to process the funding of MercadoPago transactions and MercadoLibre Marketplace collections, and must pay a fee for this service. From time to time, card associations may increase the interchange fees they charge for each transaction using one of their cards. The card processors of MercadoPago and the MercadoLibre Marketplace have the right to pass any increases in interchange fees on to us as well as increase their own fees for processing. These increased fees increase the operating costs of MercadoPago, reduce our profit margins from MercadoPago operations and, to a lesser degree, affect the operating margins of the MercadoLibre Marketplace.

We are also required by processors to comply with card association operating rules. The card associations and their member banks set and interpret the card rules. Some of those member banks compete with MercadoPago. Visa, MasterCard, American Express or other card companies could adopt new operating rules or re-interpret existing rules that we or MercadoPago’s processors might find difficult or even impossible to follow. As a result, we could lose our ability to provide MercadoPago customers the option of using debit or credit cards to fund their payments and MercadoLibre users the option to pay their fees using a debit or credit card. If MercadoPago were unable to accept credit cards, our MercadoPago business would be materially adversely affected.

We could lose the right to accept credit cards or pay fines if MasterCard and/or Visa determine that users are using MercadoPago to engage in illegal or “high risk” activities or if users generate a large amount of chargebacks. Accordingly, we are continually working to prevent “high risk” merchants from using MercadoPago. Additionally, we may be unable to access financing in the credit and capital markets at reasonable rates to fund our MercadoPago operations and for that reason our profitability and total payments volume could materially decline.

Our operating results may be impacted by an economic crisis.

General adverse economic conditions, including the possibility of recessionary conditions in the countries in which we operate or Latin America generally or a worldwide economic slowdown, would adversely impact our operating results and business. The price of oil on global oil markets has been declining and this decline, if prolonged, may have a materially adverse impact on economic conditions within certain countries in Latin America that rely heavily on the export of oil and gas, such as Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico, as well as their trading partners in the region. If the current weakness in the global economy persists or worsens, or the present global economic uncertainties continue to persist, many of our users, may delay or reduce their purchases of goods on the MercadoLibre Marketplace, which would reduce our revenues and have a material adverse impact on our business. Furthermore, future changes in trends could result in a material impact to our future consolidated statements of income and cash flows.

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The failure of the financial institutions with which we conduct business may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

The financial services industry experienced a period of unprecedented turmoil in 2008 and 2009, characterized by the bankruptcy, failure or sale of various financial institutions and an unprecedented level of intervention from the United States and other governments. If the condition of the financial services industry deteriorates again or becomes weakened for an extended period of time, the following factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition:

·

Disruptions to the capital markets or the banking system may materially adversely affect the value of investments or bank deposits we currently consider safe or liquid. We may be unable to find suitable alternative investments that are safe, liquid, and provide a reasonable return. This could result in lower interest income or longer investment horizons;

·

We may be required to increase the installment and financing fees we charge to customers for purchases made in installments or cease offering installment purchases altogether, each of which may result in a lower volume of transactions completed;

·

We may be unable to access financing in the credit and capital markets at reasonable rates in the event we find it desirable to do so. Due to the nature of our MercadoPago business, we generate high account receivable balances that we typically sell to financial institutions, and accordingly, lack of access to credit, or bank liquidations could cause us to experience severe difficulties in paying our sellers; and

·

The failure of financial institution counterparties to honor their obligations to us under credit instruments could jeopardize our ability to rely on and benefit from those instruments. Our ability to replace those instruments on the same or similar terms may be limited under difficult market conditions.

A rise in interest rates may negatively affect our MercadoPago payment volume.

In each of Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru we offer users the ability to pay for goods purchased in installments using MercadoPago. In 2018, 2017 and 2016, installment payments represented 66.5%, 52.6% and 55.7%, respectively, of MercadoPago’s total payment volume. To facilitate the offer of the installment payment feature, we pay interest to discount credit card coupons. In all of these cases, if interest rates increase, we may have to raise the installment fees we charge to users which would likely have a negative effect on MercadoPago’s total payment volume.

Changes in MercadoPago’s funding mix could adversely affect MercadoPago’s results.

MercadoPago pays significant transaction fees when customers fund payment transactions using certain credit cards, PagoMisCuentas and Pago Fácil, nominal fees when customers fund payment transactions from their bank accounts in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, and no fees when customers fund payment transactions from an existing MercadoPago account balance. Senders funded 72.8%, 74.3% and 77.2% of MercadoPago’s payment volume using credit cards during 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively (either in a single payment or in installments), and MercadoPago’s financial success will remain highly sensitive to changes in the rate at which its senders fund payments using credit cards. Customers may prefer credit card funding rather than bank account transfers for a number of reasons, including the ability to pay in installments in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the ability to dispute and reverse charges if merchandise is not delivered or is not as described, the ability to earn frequent flyer miles or other incentives offered by credit cards, the ability to defer payment, or a reluctance to provide bank account information to us. Also, in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, senders may prefer to pay by credit card without using installments to avoid the associated financial costs resulting in lower revenues to us.

Changes in MercadoPago’s ticket mix could adversely affect MercadoPago’s results.

The transaction fees MercadoPago pays in connection with certain payment methods such as OXXO are fixed regardless of the ticket price, and certain costs incurred in connection with the processing of credit card transactions are also fixed. Currently, MercadoPago charges a fee calculated as a percentage of each transaction. If MercadoPago receives a larger percentage of low ticket transactions, our profit margin may erode, or we may need to raise prices, which, in turn, may affect the volume of transactions. 

Our MercadoCredito solution exposes us to additional risks.

Our MercadoCredito solution is offered to certain merchants and consumers, and the financial success of this product depends on the effective management of the credit related risk. To assess the credit risk of a merchant and/or consumer seeking a loan under the MercadoCredito solution, we use, among other indicators, a risk model internally developed, as a credit quality indicator to help predict the merchants and/or consumer’s ability to repay the principal balance and interest related to the credit. This risk model may not accurately predict the creditworthiness of a merchant and/or consumer due to inaccurate assumptions about the particular merchant and/or consumer or the economic environment or limited product history, among other factors. The accuracy of the risk model and our ability to manage credit risk related to our MercadoCredito solution may also be affected by legal or regulatory changes (e.g., bankruptcy laws and minimum payment regulations), competitors’ actions, changes in consumer behavior, obtain funding resources, changes in the economic environment and other factors.

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Like other businesses with significant exposure to credit losses, we face the risk that MercadoCredito merchants and consumers will default on their payment obligations, making the receivables uncollectible and creating the risk of potential charge-offs.

In addition, the funding and growth of our MercadoCredito business is directly related to interest rates; a rise in interest rates may negatively affect our MercadoCredito business and results of operations.

A rise in our shipping costs may negatively affect our MercadoEnvios shipping transaction volume.

In Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay and Chile, we offer users our MercadoEnvios shipping service through integration with local carriers. To achieve economies of scale, drive down shipping costs and eliminate friction for buyers and sellers, we generally pay local carriers directly for their shipping costs, and then we decide how much of those costs we transfer to our customers. If shipping costs increase, we may have to raise the shipping fees we charge to users which may have a negative effect on MercadoEnvios’s shipping volume.

If we cannot transfer these increased fees to our customers, the resulting increase in operating costs of MercadoEnvios could generate net losses in our Enhanced Marketplace operations.

We rely on local carriers to develop our shipping service and changes to their rules or practices may adversely affect our business.

In addition, if these services are not available to us because of unfavorable contractual or commercial terms or for any other reason, we could lose our ability to provide shipping services to our customers, which could in turn have a material adverse effect on our shipping service, operating results, and financial condition.

In May 2018, there was a nationwide truckers’ strike in Brazil in which truck drivers, dissatisfied by the increase in fuel prices, blocked roads throughout the country, preventing the delivery of goods and gasoline to Brazilian businesses.  The strike resulted in a general slowdown in commercial transactions, including those performed by users of our platforms during the strike.

Future strikes or similar event in Brazil or in any other country in which where MercadoEnvios operates may create political and economic uncertainty, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We could be subject to liability and forced to change our MercadoEnvios business practices if we were found to be subject to or in violation of any laws or regulations governing shipping in the countries where we operate; or if new legislation regarding this service were enacted in the countries where MercadoEnvios operates.

A number of jurisdictions where we operate have enacted legislation regulating shipping services. We believe we are not required to have a license under the existing statutes of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay and Chile to operate MercadoEnvios with its current structure. If MercadoEnvios were found to be in violation of shipping services laws or regulations, or engaged in an unauthorized shipping business, we could be subject to liability, forced to cease doing business with residents of certain countries, or forced to change our business practices or to become a postal entity. Any change to our MercadoEnvios business practices that makes the service less attractive to customers or prohibits its use by residents of a particular jurisdiction could decrease the speed of trade on the MercadoLibre Marketplace, which would further harm our business. Even if we are not forced to change our MercadoEnvios business practices, we could be required to obtain licenses or regulatory approvals that could be very expensive and time consuming, and we cannot assure that we would be able to obtain these licenses in a timely manner or at all.

If we  do not successfully operate our fulfillment network our business may be negatively affected.

Through MercadoEnvios logistics solution, we offer sellers on our platform fulfillment and warehousing services. If we do not adequately estimate customer demand to operate our fulfillment network successfully, it could result in excess or insufficient fulfillment capacity. Further, as a result of our fulfillment network service, we maintain the inventory of third parties that sell products through our platform, which increases the complexity of tracking inventory and operating our fulfillment network. Our failure to accurately forecast customer demand and properly handle inventory could result in unexpected costs and materially adversaly affect our reputation or results of operations.

We may have inadequate business insurance coverage, which would require us to spend significant resources in the event of a disruption of our services or other contingency.

Even though we have business insurance coverage to face a disruption of our services, it may be inadequate to compensate for our losses. Any business disruption, litigation, system failure or natural disaster may cause us to incur substantial costs and divert resources, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation and financial condition.

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We may not be able to adequately protect and enforce our intellectual property rights. We could potentially face claims alleging that our technologies infringe the property rights of others.

We regard the protection of our intellectual property rights as critical to our future success and rely on a combination of copyright, trademark and trade secret laws and contractual restrictions to establish and protect our proprietary rights in our products and services. We have entered into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and certain contractors, and non-disclosure agreements with our employees and certain suppliers and strategic partners in order to limit access to and disclosure of our proprietary information. We cannot assure you that these contractual arrangements or the other steps that we have taken or will take in the future to protect our Intellectual Property will prove sufficient to prevent misappropriation of our technology or to deter independent third-parties from developing similar or competing technologies.

We pursue the registration of our intangible assets in each country where we operate, in the United States and in certain other countries worldwide. Effective intellectual property protection may not be available or granted to us by the appropriate regulatory authority in every country in which our services are made available online. We cannot assure you that we will always succeed in obtaining the intellectual property pretection we need. If we are not successful, MercadoLibre’s ability to protect its brands in against third-party infringers would be compromised and we could face claims by any future trademark owners. Any claims relating to these issues, whether meritorious or not, could cause us to enter into costly royalty and/or licensing agreements. If any of these claims against us are successful we may also have to modify our brand name in certain countries. Any of these circumstances could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We have licensed in the past, and expect that we may license in the future, certain of our proprietary rights, such as trademarks or copyrighted material, to third parties. While we attempt to ensure that our licensees maintain the quality of the MercadoLibre brand, our licensees may take actions that could affect the value of our proprietary rights or reputation, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

To date, we have not been notified that our technology infringes on the proprietary rights of third parties, but third parties may claim infringement on our part with respect to past, current or future technologies or features of our services. We expect that participants in our markets will be increasingly subject to infringement claims as the number of services and competitors in the e-commerce segment grows. Any of these claims could be expensive and time consuming to litigate or settle and could have a material adverse effect upon our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We may not be able to secure licenses for third-party technologies upon which we rely.

We rely on certain technologies that we license from third parties who supply of key database technology, operating system and specific hardware components for our services. We cannot assure you that these third-party technology licenses will continue to be available to us on commercially reasonable terms. If we were not able to make use of this technology, we would need to obtain substitute technology that may be of lower quality or performance standards or at greater cost, which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Although we generally have been able to renew or extend the terms of contractual arrangements with these third party service providers on acceptable terms, we cannot assure you that we will continue to be able to do so in the future.

Problems that affect our third-party service providers could potentially adversely affect us as well.

A number of third parties provide beneficial services to us or to our users. These services include the hosting of our servers, our shipping providers and the postal and payments infrastructures that allow users to deliver and pay for the goods and services traded amongst themselves, in addition to paying their MercadoLibre Marketplace bills. Financial, regulatory, or other problems that might prevent these companies from providing services to us or our users could reduce the number of listings on our websites or make completing transactions on our websites more difficult, which would harm our business. Any security breach at one of these companies could also affect our customers and harm our business.

We may not realize benefits from recent or future strategic acquisitions of businesses, technologies, services or products despite their costs in cash and dilution to our stockholders.

We intend to continue to acquire businesses, technologies, services or products, as appropriate opportunities arise. We may not, however, be able to identify, negotiate or finance such future acquisitions successfully or at favorable valuations, or to effectively integrate these acquisitions with our current business. The process of integrating an acquired business, technology, service or product into our business may result in unforeseen operating difficulties and expenditures. Moreover, future acquisitions may also generate unforeseen pressures and/or strains on our organizational culture.

Additionally, acquisitions could result in potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities and/or amortization expenses related to goodwill and other intangible assets, which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. Any future acquisitions of other businesses, technologies, services or products might require us to obtain additional equity or debt financing, which might not be available on favorable terms, or at all. If debt financing for potential future acquisitions is unavailable, we may determine to issue shares of our common stock or preferred stock in connection with such an acquisition and any such issuance could result in the dilution of our common stock.

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We are subject to seasonal fluctuations in our results of operations.

Our results of operations are seasonal in nature (as is the case with traditional retailers), with relatively fewer listings and transactions in the first quarter of the year, and increased activity as the year-end shopping season initiates. This seasonality is the result of fewer listings after the Christmas and other holidays and summer vacation periods in our southern hemisphere markets. To some degree, our historical rapid growth may have overshadowed seasonal or cyclical factors that might have influenced our business to date. Seasonal or cyclical variations in our operations could become more pronounced over time, which could materially adversely affect our quarter to quarter results of operations in the future.

We operate in a highly competitive and evolving market, and therefore face potential reductions in the use of our service.

The market for online commerce is relatively new in Latin America, rapidly evolving and intensely competitive, and we expect competition to become more intense in the future. Barriers to entry are relatively low and current offline and new competitors, including small businesses who want to create and promote their own stores or platforms, can easily launch new sites at relatively low cost using software that is commercially available. We currently or potentially compete with a number of other companies.

Our direct competitors include, among others, various online sales and auction services, including Amazon, Facebook, OLX.com and a number of other small services, including those that serve specialty markets. We also compete with business-to-consumer online commerce services, such as pure play Internet retailer Submarino (a website of B2W Inc), and a growing number of brick and mortar retailers who have launched on line offerings such as Americanas (a website of B2W Inc), Casas Bahia and Falabella, OLX, QueBarato and with shopping comparison sites located throughout Latin America such as Buscape and Bondfaro. In addition, we compete with online communities that specialize in classified advertisements. Although no regional competitor exists in the classified market, local players such as Webmotors, VivaStreet and Zap maintain important positions in certain markets.

We face competition from a number of large online communities and services that have expertise in developing e-commerce and facilitating online interaction. Certain of these competitors, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo! currently offer a variety of business-to-consumer commerce services, searching services and classified advertising services, and certain of these companies may introduce broader e-commerce to their large user populations. Other large companies with strong brand recognition and experience in e-commerce, such as large newspaper or media companies also compete in the online listing market. Companies with experience in e-commerce may also seek to compete in the online listing market in Latin America. We also compete with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to the extent buyers choose to purchase products in a physical establishment as opposed to on our platform. In connection with our payment solution, our direct competitors include international online payments services such as PayPal and Google Checkout, and local online payment services such as PayU in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Mexico, and Bcash, PagSeguro and MOIP in Brazil; and money remitters such as Western Union. Any or all of these companies could create competitive pressures, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

In addition, if certain websites stop linking to or containing links on their domains that send us traffic across the internet in the future, our gross merchandise volume (“GMV”) could substantially decrease and we could suffer a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We no longer have a non-competition arrangement with eBay. If eBay were to compete directly with us by launching a competing platform in Latin America, it would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and prospects. Similarly, eBay or other larger, well-established and well-financed companies may acquire, invest in or enter into other commercial relationships with competing e-commerce services. Therefore, some of our competitors and potential competitors may be able to devote greater resources to marketing and promotional campaigns, adopt more aggressive pricing policies and devote substantially more resources to website and systems development than us, which could adversely affect us. Paypal and Amazon are already active locally in certain countries of Latin America.

In many cases, companies that directly or indirectly compete with us provide Internet access. These competitors include incumbent telephone companies, cable companies, mobile communications companies and large Internet service providers. Some of these providers may take measures that could degrade, disrupt, or increase the cost of customers’ use of our services. For example, they could restrict or prohibit the use of their lines for our services, filter, block or delay the packets containing the data associated with our products, charge increased fees to us or our users for use of their lines to provide our services, or seek to charge us for our customers’ use of our services or receipt of our e-mails. These activities are technically feasible. Although we have not identified any providers who intend to take these actions, any interference with our services or higher charges for access to the Internet, could cause us to lose existing users, impair our ability to attract new users, limit our potential expansion and harm our revenue and growth.

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Fraudulent activity by our users could negatively impact our operating results, brand and reputation and cause the use of services to decrease.

We are subject to the risk of fraudulent activity on our platforms by our users. Although we have implemented measures to detect and reduce the occurrence of fraudulent activities, combat bad buyer experiences and increase buyer satisfaction, there can be no assurance that these measures will be sufficient to accurately detect, prevent or deter fraud. As our marketplace sales grow, the cost of remediating for fraudulent activity, including customer reimbursements, may materially increase and could negatively affect our operating results. In addition, users may perform frauds or potential illegal activities when using any platform we operate which could expose us to civil or criminal liability and could affect our financial performance. Although we have not experienced any material business or reputational harm as a result of fraudulent or potential illegal activities of our users in the past, we cannot rule out the possibility that any of the foregoing may occur causing harm to our business or reputation in the future. If any of the foregoing were to occur, our results of operations and financial conditions could be materially and adversely affected.



Risks related to doing business in Latin America

We face the risk of political and economic crises, instability, terrorism, civil strife, expropriation and other risks of doing business in emerging markets.

We conduct our operations in emerging market countries in Latin America. Economic and political developments in these countries, including future economic changes or crises (such as inflation, currency devaluation or recession), government deadlock, political instability, terrorism, civil strife, changes in laws and regulations, expropriation or nationalization of property, and exchange controls could impact our operations or the market value of our common stock and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Although economic conditions in one country may differ significantly from another country, we cannot assure that events in one country alone will not adversely affect our business or the market value of, or market for, our common stock.

Latin American governments have exercised and continue to exercise significant influence over the economies of the countries where we operate. This involvement, as well as political and economic conditions, could adversely affect our business.

Governments in Latin America frequently intervene in the economies of their respective countries and occasionally make significant changes in policy and regulations. Governmental actions to control inflation and other policies and regulations have often involved, among other measures, price controls, currency devaluations, capital controls and limits on imports. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be adversely affected by changes in government policies or regulations, including such factors as: exchange rates and exchange control policies; inflation rates; interest rates; tariff and inflation control policies; price control policies; import duties and restrictions; liquidity of domestic capital and lending markets; electricity rationing; tax policies, including royalty, tax increases and retroactive tax claims; and other political, diplomatic, social and economic developments in or affecting the countries where we operate. An eventual reduction of foreign investment in any of the countries where we operate may have a negative impact on such country’s economy, affecting interest rates and the ability of companies such as ours to access financial markets. In addition, our employees in Brazil and some of our employees in Argentina and Uruguay are currently represented by a labor union and employees in other Latin American countries may eventually become unionized. We may incur increased payroll costs and reduced flexibility under labor regulations if unionization in other countries were to occur, any of which may negatively impact our business.

Latin America has experienced adverse economic conditions.

Latin American countries have historically experienced uneven periods of economic growth, as well as recession, periods of high inflation and economic instability. Currently, as a consequence of adverse economic conditions in global markets and lower commodity prices and demand for commodities, many of the economies of Latin American countries have slowed their rates of growth, and some have entered recessions. The duration and severity of this slowdown is hard to predict and could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations. Additionally, certain countries have experienced or are currently experiencing severe economic crises, which may still have future effects.

Local currencies used in the conduct of our business are subject to depreciation, volatility and exchange controls.

The currencies of many countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, which together accounted for 93.9%, 95.2% and 94.8% of our net revenues for 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively, have experienced volatility in the past, particularly against the U.S. dollar. Currency movements, as well as higher interest rates, have materially and adversely affected the economies of many Latin American countries, including countries which account, or are expected to account, for a significant portion of our revenues. The depreciation of local currencies creates inflationary pressures that may have an adverse effect on us and generally restricts access to the international capital markets. For example, the devaluation of the Argentine Peso has had a negative impact on the ability of Argentine businesses to honor their foreign currency denominated debt, led to high inflation, significantly reduced real wages, had a negative impact on businesses whose success is dependent on domestic market demand, and adversely affected the government’s ability to honor its foreign debt obligations. On the other hand, the appreciation of local currencies against the U.S. dollar may lead to the deterioration of public accounts and the balance of payments of the countries where we operate, and may reduce export growth in those countries.

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We may be subject to exchange control regulations which might restrict our ability to convert local currencies into U.S. dollars. Brazilian law provides that whenever there is a serious imbalance in Brazil’s balance of payments or reason to foresee a serious imbalance, the Brazilian government may impose temporary restrictions on the remittance to foreign investors of the proceeds of their investments in Brazil.

Our reporting currency is the U.S. dollar but our revenues are generated in the currencies of each country where we operate. Therefore, if the U.S. dollar strengthens relative to these foreign currencies, the economic value of our revenues in U.S. dollar terms will decline.

Because we conduct our business outside the United States and receive almost all of our revenues in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, but report our results in U.S. dollars, we face exposure to adverse movements in currency exchange rates. The currencies of certain countries where we operate, including most notably Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, have historically experienced significant devaluations. The results of operations in the countries where we operate are exposed to foreign exchange rate fluctuations as the financial results of the applicable subsidiaries are translated from the local currency into U.S. dollars upon consolidation. If the U.S. dollar weakens against foreign currencies, as has occurred in previous years, the translation of these foreign-currency-denominated transactions will result in increased net revenues, operating expenses, and net income. Similarly, our net revenues, operating expenses, and net income will decrease if the U.S. dollar strengthens against the foreign currencies of countries in which we operate. For the year ended December 31, 2018, 60.2% of our net revenues were denominated in Brazilian Reais, 26.2% in Argentine Pesos and 7.6% in Mexican Pesos.

Our business, results of operations and financial condition are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in the currency exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Argentine Peso.

Our results of operations and financial condition are particularly sensitive to changes in the Argentine Peso/U.S. dollar exchange rate. A significant part of our operations are conducted in Argentina, where our costs are incurred, for the most part, in Argentine Pesos, while our audited consolidated financial statements are presented in U.S. dollars. Consequently, appreciation of the U.S. dollar relative to the Argentine Peso, to the extent not offset by inflation in Argentina, could result in unfavorable variations in our operating results and, conversely, depreciation of the U.S. dollar relative to the Argentine Peso could impact our operating results in a positive manner.

In recent years, the Argentine Peso has suffered significant devaluations against the U.S. dollar and has continued to devaluate against the U.S. dollar. As a result of this economic instability, Argentina’s foreign debt rating has been downgraded on multiple occasions based upon concerns regarding economic conditions and rising fears of increased inflationary pressures. This uncertainty may also adversely impact Argentina’s ability to attract capital.

The increasing level of inflation in Argentina has generated pressure for further depreciation of the Argentine Peso. After several years of relatively moderate variations in the nominal exchange rate, the Argentine Peso depreciated against the U.S. dollar by 32.6% in 2013, 31.2% in 2014, 52.1% in 2015, 21.9% in 2016, 18.4% in 2017 and 100.3% in 2018, based on the official exchange rates published by the Argentine Central Bank.

The current Argentine government has set goals to reduce the primary fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP over time, reduce the Argentine government’s reliance on Central Bank financing and has requested financial assistance from International Monetary Fund. If in spite of these measures the current Argentine government is unable to address Argentina’s structural inflationary imbalances, the prevailing high rates of inflation may continue, which would have an adverse effect on Argentina’s economy.

Inflation in Argentina could increase our costs of operations and impact our financial condition and results of operations. Inflation rates may continue to increase in the future, and the effects and effectiveness of government measures to control inflation, adopted presently or in the future, remains uncertain.

Inflation and certain government measures to curb inflation may have adverse effects on the economies of the countries where we operate, our business and our operations.

Most Latin American countries have historically experienced high rates of inflation. Inflation and some measures implemented to curb inflation have had significant negative effects on the economies of Latin American countries. Governmental actions taken in an effort to curb inflation, coupled with speculation about possible future actions, have contributed to economic uncertainty over the years in most Latin American countries. The Latin American countries where we operate may experience high levels of inflation in the future that could lead to further government intervention in the economy, including the introduction of government policies that could adversely affect our results of operations. In addition, if any of these countries experience high rates of inflation, particularly in Argentina, which was determined to be highly inflationary, we may not be able to adjust the price of our services sufficiently to offset the effects of inflation on our cost structures. A return to a high inflation environment would also have negative effects on the level of economic activity and employment and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

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Developments in other markets may affect the Latin American countries where we operate, our financial condition and results of operations.

The market value of companies in our sector may be, to varying degrees, affected by economic and market conditions in other global markets. Although economic conditions vary from country to country, investors’ perceptions of the events occurring in one country may substantially affect capital flows into and securities from issuers in other countries, including Latin American countries. Various Latin American economies have been adversely impacted by the political and economic events that occurred in several emerging economies in recent times. Furthermore, Latin American economies may be affected by events in developed economies which are trading partners or that impact the global economy.

Developments of a similar magnitude to the international markets in the future can be expected to adversely affect the economies of Latin American countries and therefore us.

E-commerce transactions in Latin America may be impeded by the lack of secure payment methods.

Unlike in the United States, consumers and merchants in Latin America can be held fully liable for credit card and other losses due to third-party fraud. As secure methods of payment for e-commerce transactions have not been widely adopted in Latin America, both consumers and merchants generally have a relatively low confidence level in the integrity of e-commerce transactions. In addition, many banks and other financial institutions have generally been reluctant to give merchants the right to process online transactions due to these concerns about credit card fraud. Unless consumer fraud laws in Latin American countries are modified to protect e-commerce merchants and consumers, and until secure, integrated online payment processing methods are fully implemented across the region, our ability to generate revenues from e-commerce may be limited, which could have a material adverse effect on our Company.



Risks related to our shares

The price of our shares of common stock may fluctuate substantially, and our stockholders’ investment may decline in value.

The trading price of our common stock may be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to factors, many of which are beyond our control, including those described above under “—Risks related to our business.”

Further, the stock markets in general, and the Nasdaq Global Market and the market for Internet-related and technology companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. We cannot assure you that trading prices and valuations will be sustained. These broad market and industry factors may materially and adversely affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our operating performance. Market fluctuations, as well as general political and economic conditions in the countries where we operate, such as recession or currency exchange rate fluctuations, may also adversely affect the market price of our common stock. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, that company is often subject to securities class-action litigation. This kind of litigation could result in substantial costs and a diversion of Management’s attention and resources, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, the market price of our common stock may fluctuate in connection with the declaration and payment of quarterly or special dividends on our common stock.

We continue to be significantly influenced by a group of stockholders that control a significant percentage of our common stock and the value of our common stock could be negatively affected by any significant disposition of our shares by any of these stockholders.

Certain stockholders own a significant percentage of our common stock. Certain members of our Management team and certain entities established by them for estate planning purposes also hold a significant percentage of our common stock. These stockholders retain the power to influence the outcome of important corporate decisions or matters submitted to a vote of our stockholders. The interests of these stockholders may conflict with, or differ from, the interests of other holders of our common stock. For example, these stockholders could cause us to make acquisitions that increase the amount of our indebtedness or outstanding shares of common stock, sell revenue-generating assets or inhibit change of control transactions that benefit other stockholders. They may also pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business, and as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us. So long as these stockholders continue to own a substantial number of shares of our common stock, they will significantly influence all our corporate decisions and together with other stockholders may be able to effect or inhibit changes in control of our Company.

Additionally, the actual sale, communication of an intention to sell or perceptions that any of the above mentioned stockholders may sell any significant amount of our common stock could negatively impact the market value of our common stock.

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Provisions of our certificate of incorporation and Delaware law could inhibit others from acquiring us, prevent a change of control, and may prevent efforts by our stockholders to change our management.

Certain provisions of our certificate of incorporation and by-laws may inhibit a change of control that our board of directors does not approve or changes in the composition of our board of directors, which could result in the entrenchment of current management.

These provisions include:

·

advance notice requirements for stockholder proposals and director nominations;

·

a staggered board of directors;

·

limitations on the ability of stockholders to remove directors other than for cause;

·

limitations on the ability of stockholders to own and/or exercise voting power over 20% of our common stock;

·

limitations on the ability of stockholders to amend, alter or repeal our by-laws;

·

the inability of stockholders to act by written consent;

·

the authority of the board of directors to adopt a stockholder rights plan;

·

the authority of the board of directors to issue, without stockholder approval, preferred stock with any terms that the board of directors determines and additional shares of our common stock; and

·

limitations on the ability of certain stockholders to enter into certain business combinations with us, as provided under Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law.

These provisions of our certificate of incorporation and by-laws may delay, defer or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might otherwise be in the best interests of our stockholders.

We may require additional capital in the future, and this additional capital may not be available on acceptable terms or at all.

We may need to raise additional funds in order to fund more rapid expansion (organically or through strategic acquisitions), to develop new or enhanced services or products, to respond to competitive pressures or to acquire complementary products, businesses or technologies. If we raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or convertible debt securities, the percentage ownership of our stockholders will be reduced, stockholders may experience additional dilution and the securities that we issue may have rights, preferences and privileges senior to those of our common stock. Additional financing may not be available on terms favorable to us or at all. If adequate funds are not available or are not available on acceptable terms, we may not be able to fund our expansion, take advantage of unanticipated acquisition opportunities, develop or enhance services or products or respond to competitive pressures. These inabilities could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Shares eligible for future sale may cause the market price of our common stock to drop significantly, even if our business is doing well.

The market price of our common stock could decline as a result of sales of a large number of shares of our common stock in the market in the future or the perception that these sales could occur. These sales, or the possibility that these sales may occur, also might make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate.

Certain stockholders or entities controlled by them or their permitted transferees beneficially own shares of our common stock that have not been registered for resale with the SEC. The holders of these restricted shares may sell their shares in the public market from time to time without registering them, subject in the case of our affiliates, to certain limitations on the timing, amount and method of those sales imposed by regulations promulgated by the SEC. Holders of restricted stock will also have the right to cause us to register the resale of shares of common stock beneficially owned by them.

In the future, we may issue securities in connection with investments and acquisitions. The amount of our common stock issued in connection with an investment or acquisition could constitute a material portion of our then outstanding common stock.

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Our stockholders may not receive dividends or dividends may not grow over time.

After reviewing the Company’s capital allocation process, the Board of Directors concluded that it has multiple investment opportunities that should generate greater return to shareholders through investing capital into the business as compared to a dividend policy. Consequently, the decision was made to suspend the payment of dividend to shareholders as of the first quarter of 2018. Our ability to pay dividends in the future may be adversely affected by a number of factors, including the risk factors described herein. All dividends will be declared at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on our earnings, financial condition and other factors as our Board of Directors may deem relevant from time to time. Our Board of Directors is under no obligation or requirement to declare a dividend. We cannot assure you that we will achieve results that will allow us to pay a specified level of dividends, if any, or to grow our dividends over time.

It may be difficult to enforce judgments against us in U.S. courts.

Although we are a Delaware corporation, our subsidiaries and most of our assets are located outside of the U.S. Furthermore, most of our directors and officers and some experts named in this report reside outside the U.S. As a result, you may not be able to enforce judgments against us or our directors or officers in U.S. courts based on the civil liability provisions of U.S. federal securities laws. It is unclear if original actions of civil liabilities based solely upon U.S. federal securities laws are enforceable in courts outside the U.S. It is equally unclear if judgments entered by U.S. courts based on the civil liability provisions of U.S. federal securities laws are enforceable in courts outside the U.S. Any enforcement action in a court outside the U.S. will be subject to compliance with procedural requirements under applicable local law, including the condition that the judgment does not violate the public policy of the applicable jurisdiction.

Risks related to our convertible senior notes

There is no assurance that we will be able to repay our convertible senior notes.

On June 30, 2014, we issued convertible notes due 2019 (the “2019 Notes”) in an aggregate principal amount of $330 million. On August 24, 2018, the Company repurchased or exchanged and retired $263.7 million principal amount of the 2019 Notes. On August 24, 2018 and on August 31, 2018, we issued convertible notes due 2028 (the “2028 Notes” and together with the 2019 Notes, the “Notes”), in an aggregate principal amount of $880 million. At maturity, we will have to pay the holders of the Notes the full aggregate principal amount of the Notes then outstanding.

There can be no assurance that we will be able to repay this indebtedness when due, or that we will be able to refinance this indebtedness on acceptable terms or at all. In addition, this indebtedness could, among other things:

·

make it difficult for us to pay other obligations;

·

make it difficult to obtain favorable terms for any necessary future financing for working capital, capital expenditures, debt service requirements or other purposes;

·

require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to service the indebtedness, reducing the amount of cash flow available for other purposes; and

·

limit our flexibility in planning for and reacting to changes in our business.

We may not have the ability to raise the funds necessary to settle conversions of the Notes or to repurchase the Notes upon a fundamental change, and our future debt may contain limitations on our ability to pay cash upon conversion or repurchase of the Notes.

Holders of the Notes will have the right to require us to repurchase their Notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change at a fundamental change repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any. In addition, upon conversion of the Notes, and even though our current intention is to deliver shares of our common stock to settle such conversion (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we may be required to make cash payments in respect of the notes being converted. However, we may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to make repurchases of Notes surrendered therefor or Notes being converted. In addition, our ability to repurchase the Notes or to pay cash upon conversions of the Notes may be limited by law, by regulatory authority or by agreements governing our future indebtedness. Our failure to repurchase Notes at a time when the repurchase is required by the indenture or to pay any cash payable on future conversions of the Notes as required by the indenture would constitute a default under the indenture. A default under the indenture or the fundamental change itself could also lead to a default under agreements governing our future indebtedness. If the repayment of the related indebtedness were to be accelerated after any applicable notice or grace periods, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the indebtedness and repurchase the Notes or make cash payments upon conversions thereof.

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The conditional conversion feature of the Notes, if triggered, may adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.

In the event the conditional conversion feature of the Notes is triggered, holders of Notes will be entitled to convert the Notes at any time during specified periods at their option. If one or more holders elect to convert their Notes, and even though our current intention is to satisfy our conversion obligation by delivering shares of our common stock (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we can decide to settle a portion or all of our conversion obligation through the payment of cash, which could adversely affect our liquidity. In addition, even if holders do not elect to convert their Notes, we could be required under applicable accounting rules to reclassify all or a portion of the outstanding principal of the Notes as a current rather than long-term liability, which would result in a material reduction of our net working capital.

We have broad discretion in the use of the net proceeds from the issuance of our Notes and may not use them effectively.

We have broad discretion in the application of the net proceeds that we received from the issuance of our Notes, including working capital, possible acquisitions, and other general corporate purposes, and we may spend or invest these proceeds in a way with which our investors disagree. The failure by our Management to apply these funds effectively could adversely affect our business and financial condition. Pending their use, we may invest the net proceeds from our Notes in a manner that does not produce income or that loses value. These investments may not yield a favorable return to our investors, and may negatively impact the price of our securities.





 

ITEM 1B.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS



Not applicable.





 

 

ITEM 2.

PROPERTIES

Our principal administrative, marketing and product development facilities are located in our offices in City of Buenos Aires and the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza, Entre Rios, Santa Fe and San Luis, Argentina; Brasilia, Florianópolis, São Paulo and Osasco, Brazil; Mexico City, Mexico; Aguada Park and Montevideo, Uruguay; Bogotá and Medellín, Colombia; Lima, Perú and Santiago de Chile, Chile. Currently, all of our offices are occupied under lease agreements, except for our Argentine office. The leases for our facilities provide for renewal options. After expiration of these leases, we can renegotiate the leases with our current landlords, or move to another location. From time to time we consider various alternatives related to our long-term facility needs. While we believe our existing facilities are adequate to meet our immediate needs, it may become necessary to lease or acquire additional or alternative space to accommodate any future growth.

Our fulfillment centers for MercadoEnvios are located in Axotlán, Municipio de Cuautitlán Izcalli, Mexico State, Mexico and in Louveira, São Paulo State, Brazil. Our crossdocking centers for MercadoEnvios in Brazil are located in Campinas, Barueri and São Paulo, all of them in São Paulo State. All of the centers are occupied under lease agreements.

Our headquarters are located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our data centers are located in Virginia, United States, and occupy approximately 418 square meters. As of December 31, 2018, our owned and leased facilities (excluding data centers) provided us with square meters as follows:





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Argentina

 

Brazil

 

 

México

 

Others

 

Total



 

(sq mt)

 

(sq mt)

 

 

(sq mt)

 

(sq mt)

 

(sq mt)

Owned facilities

 

14,547 

 

-

 

 

-  

 

-  

 

14,547 

Leased facilities

 

44,268 

 

76,909 

 

 

32,397 

 

10,439 

 

164,013 

Total facilities

 

58,815 

 

76,909 

 

 

32,397 

 

10,439 

 

178,560 

 





 

ITEM 3.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

Please refer to Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and  Supplementary  Data—Note 15 Commitments and Contingencies—Litigation and Other Legal Matters.

 





 

ITEM 4.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

32


 

PART II

 



 

ITEM 5.

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Market Price of and Dividends on the Registrant’s Common Equity

Shares of our common stock, par value $0.001 per share, or our common stock, trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (“NASDAQ”) under the symbol “MELI.” As of December 31, 2018, the closing price of our common stock was $292.85 per share. As of February 22, 2019, we had 12 holders of record of our common stock. This figure does not reflect the beneficial ownership of shares held in nominee name. The following table sets forth, for the indicated periods, the high and low per share sale prices for our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market:







 

 

 

 

 



High

 

Low

2018

 

 

 

 

 

1st quarter

$

413.94 

 

$

322.58 

2nd quarter

$

355.48 

 

$

285.35 

3rd quarter

$

384.39 

 

$

295.70 

4th quarter

$

369.51 

 

$

257.52 



 

 

 

 

 

2017

 

 

 

 

 

1st quarter

$

216.29 

 

$

161.02 

2nd quarter

$

297.22 

 

$

215.28 

3rd quarter

$

292.38 

 

$

232.64 

4th quarter

$

329.28 

 

$

221.51 



 

 

 

 

 





Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

There were no sales of unregistered securities by us during the three-month period ending December 31, 2018.

Dividend Policy

After reviewing the Company’s capital allocation process the Board of Directors has concluded that it has multiple investment opportunities that can generate greater return to shareholders through investing capital into the business over a dividend policy. Consequently, the decision has been made to suspend the payment of dividend to shareholders as of the first quarter of 2018.

Equity Compensation Plan Information

Information regarding securities authorized for issuance under the Company’s equity compensation plan as of December 31, 2018 is set forth in “Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholders Matters.”

33


 

Performance Graph

The graph below shows the total stockholder return of an investment of $100 on December 31, 2007 through December 31, 2018 for (i) our common stock; (ii) The Nasdaq Composite Index; (iii) The S&P 500 Index; and (iv) the Dow Jones Ecommerce Index. The Dow Jones Ecommerce Index is a weighted index of stocks of companies in the e-commerce industry. Stock price performance shown in the graph below is not indicative of future stock price performance:



Imagen 1

 

We cannot assure you that our share performance will continue into the future with the same or similar trends depicted in the graph above. We will not make or endorse any predictions as to our future stock performance.

The foregoing graph and chart shall not be deemed incorporated by reference by any general statement incorporating by reference this Annual Report on Form 10-K into any filing under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, except to the extent we specifically incorporate this information by reference, and shall not otherwise be deemed filed under those acts.

34


 





 

ITEM 6.

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA



The following summary financial data is qualified by reference to and should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this report.







 

 

 

 

 



Year Ended December, 31

(in millions)

2018 (*)

2017 (*)

2016 (*)

2015 (*)

2014 (*)

Statement of income data:

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenues (**)

1,439.7  1,216.5  844.4  651.8  556.5 

Cost of net revenues

(742.6) (496.9) (307.5) (215.0) (159.0)

Gross profit

697.0  719.6  536.9  436.8  397.6 



 

 

 

 

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

Product and technology development

(146.3) (127.2) (98.5) (76.4) (53.6)

Sales and marketing

(482.4) (325.4) (156.3) (128.6) (111.6)

General and administrative

(137.8) (122.2) (87.3) (76.3) (62.4)

Impairment of Long-Lived Assets

 —

(2.8) (13.7) (16.2) (49.5)

Loss on Deconsolidation of Venezuelan Subsidiaries (***)

 —

(85.8)

 —

 —

 —

Total operating expenses

(766.5) (663.3) (355.8) (297.6) (277.1)

(Loss)/Income from operations

(69.5) 56.3  181.1  139.2  120.5 



 

 

 

 

 

Other income (expenses):

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income and other financial gains

42.0  45.9  35.4  20.6  15.3 

Interest expense and other financial charges

(56.2) (26.5) (25.6) (20.4) (11.7)

Foreign currency gains/(loss)

18.2  (21.6) (5.6) 11.1  (2.4)

Net (loss)/income before income tax gain/(expense)

(65.5) 54.1  185.3  150.5  121.8 

Income tax gain/(expense)

28.9  (40.3) (49.0) (44.7) (49.1)



 

 

 

 

 

Net (Loss)/income

(36.6) 13.8  136.4  105.8  72.7 

Less: Net Income attributable to Noncontrolling

 

 —

 —

 —

0.1 

Net (Loss)/income available to common shareholders

(36.6) 13.8  136.4  105.8  72.6 



 

 

 

 

 

(*)The table above may not total due to rounding.

(**)The amount incurred in shipping subsidies, which under ASC 606 are netted from revenues when we act as an agent, were $424.8 million and $181.6 million for the year ended ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. No shipping subsidies were provided in 2016. Please refer to Note 2 of our audited consolidated financial statements for additional detail.

(***) Venezuelan result have been deconsolidated since December 1, 2017, therefore, our 2018 results do not include Venezuelan segment results. Please refer to note 2 from our audited consolidated financial statements for additional detail.









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



At December 31,

(in millions, except for per share data)

2018

 

2017

 

2016

  

2015

  

2014

Balance sheet data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

Total assets

$

2,239.5 

 

$

1,673.2 

 

$

1,367.4 

  

$

1,003.6 

  

$

966.8 

Long term debt

 

602.2 

 

 

312.1 

 

 

301.9 

  

 

294.3 

  

 

282.2 

Total liabilities

 

1,902.8 

 

 

1,347.4 

 

 

938.6 

  

 

664.1 

  

 

611.1 

Net assets

 

336.7 

 

 

325.8 

 

 

428.9 

  

 

339.5 

  

 

355.8 

Common stock

 

0.05 

 

 

0.04 

 

 

0.04 

  

 

0.04 

  

 

0.04 

Equity

 

336.7 

 

 

325.8 

 

 

428.9 

  

 

339.5 

  

 

355.8 

Cash dividend declared per common share

$

 —

 

$

0.600 

 

$

0.600 

  

$

0.412 

  

$

0.664 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 



35


 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



  

Year Ended December 31,



  

2018

  

2017

  

2016

  

2015

  

2014

(Loss)/Earnings per share data:

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

Basic net (loss)/income available to common stockholders

  per common share

 

  

 

$

(0.82)

  

 

$

0.31 

  

 

$

3.09 

  

 

$

1.63 

  

 

$

2.66 

Diluted net (loss)/income per common share

  

$

(0.82)

  

$

0.31 

  

$

3.09 

  

$

1.63 

  

$

2.66 

Weighted average shares(1):

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

Basic

  

 

44,529,614 

  

 

44,157,364 

  

 

44,157,251 

  

 

44,153,884 

  

 

44,152,600 

Diluted

  

 

44,529,614 

  

 

44,157,364 

  

 

44,157,251 

  

 

44,153,884 

  

 

44,152,600 

(1) Shares outstanding at December 31, 2018 were 45,202,859.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



  

Year ended December 31,

(in millions)

  

 

2018(11)

  

 

2017 (11)

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

2014

Other data:

  

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

Number of confirmed registered users at end of period (1)

  

 

267.4 

  

 

211.9 

  

 

174.2 

  

 

144.6 

  

 

120.9 

Number of confirmed new registered users during period (2)

  

 

55.5 

  

 

37.7 

  

 

29.5 

  

 

23.7 

  

 

21.5 

Gross merchandise volume (3)

  

$

12,504.9 

  

$

11,749.3 

  

$

8,048.1 

  

$

7,150.8 

  

$

7,081.9 

Number of successful items sold (4)

  

 

334.7 

  

 

270.1 

  

 

181.2 

  

 

128.4 

  

 

101.3 

Number of successful items shipped (5)

  

 

221.7 

  

 

150.7 

 

 

86.5 

 

 

45.2 

 

 

17.8 

Total payment volume (6)

 

$

18,455.9 

 

$

13,731.7 

  

$

7,753.7 

  

$

5,184.1 

  

$

3,523.2 

Total volume of payments on marketplace (7)

 

$

11,274.5 

 

$

9,627.6 

 

$

5,627.4 

 

$

3,764.7 

 

$

2,581.8 

Total payment transactions (8)

 

 

389.3 

 

 

231.4 

 

 

138.7 

 

 

80.4 

 

 

46.3 

Unique buyers (9)

 

 

37.4 

 

 

33.7 

 

 

27.7 

 

 

23.6 

 

 

22.0 

Unique sellers (10)

 

 

10.8 

 

 

10.1 

 

 

9.4 

 

 

7.8 

 

 

7.1 

Capital expenditures

  

$

102.0 

  

$

83.5 

  

$

84.7 

  

$

109.3 

  

$

76.1 

Depreciation and amortization

  

$

45.8 

  

$

40.9 

  

$

29.0 

  

$

23.2 

  

$

16.9 

 

(1)

Measure of the cumulative number of users who have registered on the MercadoLibre Marketplace and confirmed their registration, excluding Classifieds users.

(2)

Measure of the number of new users who have registered on the MercadoLibre Marketplace and confirmed their registration, excluding Classifieds users.

(3)

Measure of the total U.S. dollar sum of all transactions completed through the MercadoLibre Marketplace, excluding Classifieds transactions.

(4)

Measure of the number of items that were sold/purchased through the MercadoLibre Marketplace, excluding Classifieds items.

(5)

Measure of the number of items that were shipped through our shipping service.

(6)

Measure of the total U.S. dollar sum of all transactions paid for using MercadoPago, including marketplace and non-marketplace transactions.

(7)

Measure of the total U.S. dollar sum of all marketplace transactions paid for using MercadoPago, excluding shipping and financing fees.

(8)

Measure of the number of all transactions paid for using MercadoPago.

(9)

New or existing users with at least one purchase made in the period, including Classifieds users.

(10)

New or existing users with at least one new listing in the period, including Classifieds users.

(11)

Data for 2017 includes Venezuelan metrics up to November 30, 2017 due to deconsolidation. Please refer to Note 2 of our audited consolidated financial statements for additional detail. Data for 2018 excludes Venezuelan metrics.

Non-GAAP Measures of Financial Performance

To supplement our audited consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP, we use foreign exchange (“FX”) neutral measures as a non-GAAP measure.

This non-GAAP measure should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP and may be different from non-GAAP measures used by other companies. In addition, this non-GAAP measure is not based on any comprehensive set of accounting rules or principles. Non-GAAP measures have limitations in that they do not reflect all of the amounts associated with our results of operations as determined in accordance with U.S. GAAP. This non-GAAP financial measure should only be used to evaluate our results of operations in conjunction with the most comparable U.S. GAAP financial measures.

Reconciliation of this non-GAAP financial measure to the most comparable U.S. GAAP financial measures can be found in the tables included in this annual report.

Non-GAAP financial measures are provided to enhance investors’ overall understanding of our current financial performance. Specifically, we believe that reconciliation of FX neutral measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measure provides investors an overall understanding of our current financial performance and its prospects for the future. Specifically, we believe these non-GAAP measures provide useful information to both management and investors by excluding the foreign currency exchange rate impact that may not be indicative of our core operating results and business outlook.

36


 

The FX neutral measures were calculated by using the average monthly exchange rates for each month during 2017 and applying them to the corresponding months in 2018, so as to calculate what our results would have been had exchange rates remained stable from one year to the next. The comparative FX neutral measures were calculated by using the average monthly exchange rates for each month during 2016 and applying them to the corresponding months in 2017, so as to calculate what our results would have been had exchange rates remained stable from one year to the next. The table below excludes intercompany allocation FX effects. Finally, these measures do not include any other macroeconomic effect such as local currency inflation effects, the impact on impairment calculations or any price adjustment to compensate local currency inflation or devaluations.

The following table sets forth the FX neutral measures related to our reported results of the operations for years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016:





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Year Ended
December 31, (*)



 

As reported

 

FX Neutral Measures

(In millions, except percentages)

 

2018

 

2017

 

Percentage Change

 

2018

 

2017

 

Percentage Change



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenues

 

$                           1,439.7

 

$                    1,216.5

 

18.3% 

 

$                           1,820.7

 

$                    1,216.5

 

49.7% 

Cost of net revenues

 

(742.6)

 

(496.9)

 

49.4% 

 

(943.2)

 

(496.9)

 

89.8% 

Gross profit

 

697.0 

 

719.6 

 

-3.1%

 

877.6 

 

719.6 

 

22.0% 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating expenses

 

(766.5)

 

(574.7)

 

33.4% 

 

(984.0)

 

(574.7)

 

71.2% 

Impairment of Long-Lived Assets

 

 

 

(2.8)

 

-100.0%

 

 —

 

(2.8)

 

-100.0%

Loss on Deconsolidation of Venezuelan Subsidiaries

 

 

 

(85.8)

 

-100.0%

 

 —

 

(85.8)

 

-100.0%

Total operating expenses

 

(766.5)

 

(663.3)

 

15.6% 

 

(984.0)

 

(663.3)

 

48.3% 

(Loss) / Income from operations

 

(69.5)

 

56.3 

 

-223.5%

 

(106.5)

 

56.3 

 

-289.2%





(*) The table above may not total due to rounding.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Year Ended
December 31, (*)



 

As reported

 

FX Neutral Measures

(In millions, except percentages)

 

2017

 

2016

 

Percentage Change

 

2017

 

2016

 

Percentage Change

Net revenues

 

$                               1,216.5

 

$                        844.4

 

44.1% 

 

1,359.3 

 

$                        844.4

 

61.0% 

Cost of net revenues

 

(496.9)

 

(307.5)

 

61.6% 

 

(518.1)

 

(307.5)

 

68.5% 

Gross profit

 

719.6 

 

536.9 

 

34.0% 

 

841.2 

 

536.9 

 

56.7% 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating expenses

 

(574.7)

 

(342.1)

 

68.0% 

 

(611.2)

 

(342.1)

 

78.7% 

Impairment of Long-Lived Assets

 

(2.8)

 

(13.7)

 

-79.3%

 

(2.8)

 

(13.7)

 

-79.3%

Loss on Desconsolidation of Venezuelan Subsidiaries

 

(85.8)

 

 —

 

100.0% 

 

(85.8)

 

 —

 

100.0% 

Total operating expenses

 

(663.3)

 

(355.8)

 

86.4% 

 

(699.7)

 

(355.8)

 

96.7% 

Income from operations

 

56.3 

 

181.1 

 

-68.9%

 

141.4 

 

181.1 

 

-21.9%



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



(*) The table above may not total due to rounding.

 

37


 





 

ITEM 7.

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of our operations in conjunction with our “Selected Financial Data” and our audited consolidated financial statements and the notes to those statements included elsewhere in this report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements reflecting our current expectations that involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results and the timing of events may differ materially from those contained in these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those discussed in the section entitled “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this report.

The discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations has been organized to present the following:

·

a brief overview of our company;

·

a discussion of our principal trends and results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016;

·

a review of our financial presentation and accounting policies, including our critical accounting policies;

·

a discussion of the principal factors that influence our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity;

·

a discussion of our liquidity and capital resources, a discussion of our capital expenditures and a description of our contractual obligations; and

·

a discussion of the market risks that we face.

 



Business Overview

MercadoLibre, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries “us”, “we”, “our” or the “Company”) is the largest online commerce ecosystem in Latin America based on unique visitors and page views.  

We were incorporated in Delaware in October 1999 and introduced websites in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela by April 2000.

We completed our initial public offering in August 2007, resulting in net proceeds of $49.6 million.

Our platform is designed to provide users with a complete portfolio of services to facilitate commercial transactions. We are a market leader in e-commerce in each of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, based on number of unique visitors and page views. We also operate online commerce platforms in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Salvador, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala and Paraguay.

Through our platform, we provide buyers and sellers with a robust environment that fosters the development of a large e-commerce community in Latin America, a region with a population of over 644 million people and with one of the fastest-growing Internet penetration rates in the world. We believe that we offer technological and commercial solutions that address the distinctive cultural and geographic challenges of operating an online commerce platform in Latin America.

We offer our users an ecosystem of six integrated e-commerce services: the MercadoLibre Marketplace, the MercadoLibre Classifieds service, the MercadoEnvios logistics service, the MercadoPago FinTech solution, the MercadoLibre advertising solution and the MercadoShops online webstores solution.  

The MercadoLibre Marketplace is a fully-automated, topically-arranged and user-friendly online commerce platform, which can be accessed through our website and mobile app. This platform enables both businesses and individuals to list merchandise and conduct sales and purchases online in a fixed-price format.

Through our MercadoEnvios logistics solution, we offer sellers on our platform technological and operational integration with third party carriers and other logistics service providers, as well as fulfillment and warehousing services. Sellers using our the solution are able to offer a uniform and seamlessly integrated shipping experience to their buyers at competitive prices.

Through our MercadoLibre Classifieds, our online classifieds listing service, our users can also list and purchase motor vehicles, real estate and services in all countries in which we operate. Classifieds listings differ from Marketplace listings as they only charge optional placement fees and never final value fees. Our classifieds pages are also a major source of traffic to our website, benefitting both the Enhanced Marketplace and non-Marketplace businesses.

Our MercadoLibre advertising platform enables businesses to promote their products and services on the Internet. Through this platform, MercadoLibre’s sellers and large advertisers are able to display ads on our webpages.

38


 

MercadoPago is our FinTech solution, designed to facilitate transactions both on and off our marketplaces by providing a mechanism that allows our users to securely, easily and promptly send and receive payments online. Away from our marketplaces, MercadoPago allows merchants to process payments on their websites and mobile apps as well as in their stores through QR and MPOS devices. It also enables users to transfer money in a simple way to each other. Through MercadoFondo, our users are able to invest the stored balance in their MercadoPago accounts at competitive rates and in a simple way. MercadoCredito, our lending solution, allows us to finance merchants’ working capital needs and consumers’ purchases.

Additionally, through MercadoShops, our online store solution, users can set-up, manage and promote their own online stores. These stores are hosted by MercadoLibre and offer integration with the rest of the ecosystem, namely our marketplaces and payment services. Users can select between a free model and a subscription-based model for enhanced functionalities and value added services on their store.

MercadoLibre also develops and sells enterprise software solutions to e-commerce business clients in Brazil.

 

Reporting Segments and Geographic Information

Our segment reporting is based on geography, which is the criterion our Management uses to evaluate our segment performance. Our geographic segments are Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Other Countries (which includes Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Uruguay and the United States of America (through real estate classifieds in the State of Florida, only)). Venezuela was one of our geographic segments until we deconsolidated our Venezuelan operations, effective as of December 1, 2017. Although we discuss long-term trends in our business, it is our policy not to provide earnings guidance in the traditional sense. We believe that uncertain conditions make the forecasting of near-term results difficult. Further, we seek to make decisions focused primarily on the long-term welfare of our company and believe focusing on short-term earnings does not best serve the interests of our stockholders. We believe that execution of key strategic initiatives as well as our expectations for long-term growth in our markets will best create stockholder value.

The following table sets forth the percentage of our consolidated net revenues by segment for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016:



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Years ended December 31,

(% of total consolidated net revenues) (*)(**)

 

2018 

 

 

2017 

 

2016 

 

Brazil

 

60.2 

%

 

56.8 

%

53.9 

%

Argentina

 

26.2 

 

 

29.5 

 

31.1 

 

Mexico

 

7.6 

 

 

4.2 

 

5.5 

 

Venezuela (***)

 

 —

 

 

4.5 

 

4.4 

 

Other Countries

 

6.1 

 

 

5.0 

 

5.2 

 





 

(*)

Percentages have been calculated using whole-dollar amounts rather than the rounded amounts that appear in the table. The table above may not total due to rounding.

(**)

The amount incurred in shipping subsidies, which under ASC 606 are netted from revenues, when we act as an agent, were  $424.8 million and $181.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. No shipping subsidies were provided in 2016. Please refer to Note 2 of our audited consolidated financial statements for additional detail.

(***)

Venezuelan revenues have been deconsolidated since December 1, 2017. Please refer to Note 2 of our audited consolidated financial statements for additional detail.

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The following table summarizes the changes in our net revenues by segment for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016:







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Year ended

 

Change from 2017

 

Year ended

 

Change from 2016



December 31,

to 2018 (*)(**)

 

December 31,

to 2017 (*)



2018

 

2017

 

in Dollars

 

in %

 

2017

 

2016

 

in Dollars

 

in %

 



(in millions, except percentages)

 

 

(in millions, except percentages)

 

Net Revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brazil

$        866.2

 

$        690.8

 

$      175.4

 

25.4 

%

 

$        690.8

 

$           455.0

 

$       235.8

 

51.8 

%

Argentina

376.6 

 

359.4 

 

17.2 

 

4.8 

 

 

359.4 

 

262.3 

 

97.1 

 

37.0 

 

Mexico

109.1 

 

51.3 

 

57.8 

 

112.5 

 

 

51.3 

 

46.3 

 

5.0 

 

10.8 

 

Venezuela (***)

 —

 

54.3 

 

(54.3)

 

(100.0)

 

 

54.3 

 

37.2 

 

17.1 

 

46.1 

 

Other Countries

87.8 

 

60.7 

 

27.1 

 

44.6 

 

 

60.7 

 

43.6 

 

17.1 

 

39.2 

 

Total Net Revenues

$     1,439.7

 

$     1,216.5

 

$      223.1

 

18.3 

%

 

$     1,216.5

 

$           844.4

 

$       372.1

 

44.1 

%





 

(*)

Percentages have been calculated using whole-dollar amounts rather than the rounded amounts that appear in the table. The table above may not total due to rounding.

(**)

The amount incurred in shipping subsidies, which under ASC 606 are netted from revenues, when we act as an agent, were $424.8 million and $181.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. No shipping subsidies were provided in 2016. Please refer to Note 2 of our audited consolidated financial statements for additional detail.

(***)

Venezuelan revenues have been deconsolidated since December 1, 2017.  Please refer to Note 2 of our audited interim condensed consolidated financial statements for additional detail.







Recent Developments

Capped call transactions related to the 2.00% Convertible Senior Notes Due 2028

On August 24, 2018, we issued $800 million of 2.00% Convertible Senior Notes due 2028 and issued an additional $80 million of notes on August 31, 2018 pursuant to the partial exercise of the initial purchasers’ option to purchase such additional notes, for an aggregate principal amount of $880 million of 2.00% Convertible Senior Notes due 2028 (collectively, the “2028 Notes”).

In connection with the issuance of the 2028 Notes, we paid $11.5 million (including transaction expenses) in November 2018, to enter into the 2028 Notes Capped Call Transactions with certain financial institutions. The 2028 Notes Capped Call Transactions are expected generally to reduce the potential dilution upon conversion of the 2028 Notes in the event that the market price of our common stock is greater than the strike price of the 2028 Notes Capped Call Transactions. Please see note 17 to our audited consolidated financial statements for further detail on Capped Call transactions.

Unwind of 2.25% Convertible Senior Notes Due 2019 Capped Call

In connection with the termination of existing 2019 Capped Call Transactions and the related unwinding of the existing hedge position, we received from certain financial institutions the amount of $14.4 million during November 2018. Please see Note 17 to our audited consolidated financial statements for further details on this unwinding.

Acquisition of software development companies in Argentina

In October 2018, we, through our subsidiaries Meli Participaciones S.L. and Marketplace Investment LLC, completed the acquisition of 100% of the equity interest of Kinexo S.A and Kaitzen S.A., which are software development companies located and organized under the laws of Argentina, for an amount of $4.0 million. Please see Note 6 of our audited consolidated financial statements for further detail on business acquisitions.

Approval from the Central Bank of Brazil to operate as authorized payment institution

During November 2014, we submitted our application to become an authorized payment institution in Brazil through our Brazilian subsidiary MercadoPago.com Representações Ltda. On November 1, 2018 our Brazilian subsidiary obtained the approval from the Central Bank of Brazil to operate as authorized payment institution. The mentioned approval confirmed our ability to continue carrying out the payment processing functions.



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