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EX-32.01 - EX-32.01 - MERCADOLIBRE INCmeli-20151231ex320173971.htm
EX-31.01 - EX-31.01 - MERCADOLIBRE INCmeli-20151231ex3101343a8.htm
EX-23.01 - EX-23.01 - MERCADOLIBRE INCmeli-20151231ex2301aa88d.htm
EX-21.01 - EX-21.01 - MERCADOLIBRE INCmeli-20151231ex210136767.htm
EX-32.02 - EX-32.02 - MERCADOLIBRE INCmeli-20151231ex320254082.htm
EX-31.02 - EX-31.02 - MERCADOLIBRE INCmeli-20151231ex3102117c9.htm

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, 2015

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, C1430CRG, Argentina

(Address of registrant’s principal executive offices)

(+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 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 and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted 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 and post 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, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:. (Check one):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large Accelerated Filer

 

  

Accelerated Filer

 

 

 

 

 

Non-Accelerated Filer

 

  (Do not check if smaller reporting company)

  

Smaller reporting company

 

 

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, 2015, 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 Market on June 30, 2015) was approximately $4,498,329,840. 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, 2015 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, 2016, there were 44,156,854 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 2016 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by no later than April 29, 2016, 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, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

  

 

  

 

 

PART I

  

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

  

 

  

 

 

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

  

 

13 

  

 

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

  

 

33 

  

 

 

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

  

 

33 

  

 

 

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

  

 

35 

  

 

 

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

  

 

39 

  

 

 

PART II

  

 

 

 

 

 

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

  

 

39 

  

 

 

ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

  

 

41 

  

 

 

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

  

 

43 

  

 

 

ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

  

 

74 

  

 

 

ITEM 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

  

 

80 

  

 

 

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

  

 

80 

  

 

 

ITEM 9A. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

  

 

80 

  

 

 

ITEM 9B. OTHER INFORMATION

  

 

81 

  

 

 

PART III

  

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 10. DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

  

 

81 

  

 

 

ITEM 11. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

  

 

81 

  

 

 

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

  

 

81 

  

 

 

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

  

 

83 

  

 

 

ITEM 14. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES

  

 

83 

  

 

 

PART IV

  

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 15. EXHIBITS, FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES

  

 

84 

  

 

 

INDEX TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

  

 

84 

  

 

 

SIGNATURES

  

 

87 

  

 

 

EXHIBIT INDEX

  

 

88 

  

 

 

 

 

3


 

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 online commerce and Internet usage in Latin America;

·

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

·

government and central bank regulations;

·

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;

·

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

·

seasonal fluctuations;

political, social and economic conditions in Latin America in general, and Venezuela and Argentina in particular, including Venezuela’s status as a highly inflationary economy for generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (“U.S. GAAP”), and possible future currency devaluation and other changes to its exchange rate systems such as the “Sistema Marginal de Divisas” (“SIMADI”), and the Argentine government’s default of certain government bonds and possible further devaluations of the Argentine Peso.

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.

 

1


 

PART I

 

 

 

ITEM 1.

BUSINESS

MercadoLibre, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries “us”, “we”, “our” or the “Company”) hosts the largest online commerce platform in Latin America, which is focused on enabling e-commerce and its related services. Our platforms are designed to provide our users with a complete portfolio of services facilitating e-commerce transactions. We are market leaders in e-commerce in each of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, based on unique visitors and page views. We also operate online commerce platforms in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, Paraguay and Portugal.

Through our online commerce platform, we provide buyers and sellers with a robust online commerce environment that fosters the development of a large and growing e-commerce community in Latin America, a region with a population of over 605 million people and one of the fastest-growing Internet penetration rates in the world. We believe that we offer a technological and commercial solution that addresses the distinctive cultural and geographic challenges of operating an online commerce platform in Latin America.

We offer our users an eco-system of six related e-commerce services: the MercadoLibre Marketplace, The MercadoLibre Classifieds Service, the MercadoPago payments solution, the MercadoLibre Advertising program (“MercadoClics”), the MercadoShops on-line webstores solution and the MercadoEnvios shipping service.

The MercadoLibre Marketplace, which we regularly refer to as our marketplace, is a fully-automated, topically-arranged and user-friendly online commerce service. This service permits both businesses and individuals to list general merchandising items and conduct their sales and purchases online in either a fixed-price or auction-based format. Any Internet user in the countries in which we operate can browse through the various products that are listed on our website and register with the MercadoLibre Marketplace to list, bid for and purchase such items and services.

To complement the MercadoLibre Marketplace, we developed the MercadoPago, an integrated online payments solution. MercadoPago is designed to facilitate transactions both on and off the MercadoLibre Marketplace by providing a mechanism that allows our users to securely, easily and promptly send, receive and finance payments online. Mercado Pago is currently available in: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Chile.

Through MercadoLibre Classifieds Service, our online classified listing service, our users can offer for sale and generate leads on listings in these non-general merchandising categories.

As a further enhancement to the MercadoLibre Marketplace, we developed our MercadoLibre Advertising program to enable businesses to promote their products and services on the Internet. Through MercadoLibre Advertising, users and advertisers are able to place display and/or text advertisements on our web pages in order to promote their brands and offerings. MercadoLibre Advertising offers advertisers a cost efficient and automated solution that enables advertisers to acquire traffic through advertisements placed on our platform. Advertisers purchase, on a cost per click basis, advertising space that appears around product search results for specific categories and other pages. These advertising placements are clearly differentiated from product search results and direct traffic both to and from our platform depending on the advertiser.

Additionally, during 2010, we launched the MercadoShops on-line webstores solution. Through MercadoShops, users can set-up, manage and promote their own on-line webstores. These webstores are hosted by MercadoLibre and offer integration with the other marketplace, payments and advertising services we offer. Users can choose from a basic, free webstore or pay monthly subscriptions for enhanced functionality and value added services on their webstores.

To close out our suite of e-commerce services, during 2013 and 2014, we launched the MercadoEnvios shipping solution in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, while during the second quarter of 2015 we launched our shipping solution in Colombia. Through MercadoEnvios, we offer  a cost efficient integration with existing logistic and shipping carriers to sellers on our platform. Sellers opting into the program are able to offer a uniform and seamlessly integrated shipping experience to their buyers at competitive prices.

At last, MercadoLibre develops and sells software enterprise solutions to e-commerce business clients in Brazil since the second quarter of 2015.

History of MercadoLibre

In March of 1999, Marcos Galperin, our co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, wrote our 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 of 1999.

 

We commenced operations in Argentina in August of 1999 and subsequently began operations in other countries as well. The following table shows the timeline of different launches and events in each country:

 

Country

 

MercadoLibre

 

Office opening

 

MercadoPago

 

MercadoEnvios

Launch date

Launch date

Launch date

Argentina

 

August 1999

 

July 1999

 

November 2003

 

February 2013

Brazil

 

October 1999

 

September 1999

 

January 2004

 

January 2013

 

2


 

Mexico

 

November 1999

 

October 1999

 

January 2004

 

October 2014

Uruguay

 

December 1999

 

September 2004

 

N/A

 

N/A

Colombia

 

February 2000

 

January 2000

 

December 2007

 

May 2015

Venezuela

 

March 2000

 

March 2000

 

April 2005

 

N/A

Chile

 

March 2000

 

April 2000 (*)

 

September 2007

 

NA

Ecuador

 

December 2000

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

Peru

 

December 2004

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

Costa Rica

 

November 2006

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

Dominican Republic

 

December 2006

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

Panama

 

December 2006

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

Portugal

 

January 2010

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

Bolivia

 

July 2015

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

Guatemala

 

July 2015

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

Paraguay

 

November 2015

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

N/A

 

 

 

 

(*)

We closed our offices in Chile in 2009. In 2014, we acquired Portal Inmobiliario with offices in Chile.

Our business is organized using the same technological platform in each country where we operate. However, the site of each country has its own specific local website which has no interaction with our website in other countries. For example, searches carried out on our Brazilian website show only results of listings uploaded on that particular website and do not show listings from other countries.

We received two rounds of financing in addition to our initial seed funding. The first round was carried out in November of 1999, resulting in proceeds to us of $7.6 million from investors that included J.P. Morgan Partners BHCA L.P., Flatiron Fund entities and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst. The second round of financing occurred in May of 2000 and raised $46.7 million from, among others, Goldman Sachs entities (GS Capital Partners III, L.P., GS Capital Partners III Offshore, L.P. and Goldman Sachs & Co. Verwaltungs GmbH), Capital Riesgo Internet SCR S.A. (CRI Banco Santander Central Hispano), GE Capital Equity Investments, Inc., J.P. Morgan Partners BHCA L.P. and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst.

In September 2001, we entered into a strategic alliance with eBay Inc., (“eBay”), which became one of our stockholders and started working with us to better serve the Latin American e-commerce community. As part of this strategic alliance, we acquired eBay’s Brazilian subsidiary at the time, iBazar, and eBay agreed not to compete with us in the region during the term of the agreement which ended on September 24, 2006. During this term, this agreement also provided us with access to certain know-how and experience, which accelerated aspects of our development. Even though eBay is one of our stockholders, since the termination of this agreement, 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.”

In November 2002, we acquired certain key strategic assets of Lokau.com , a competing Brazilian online commerce platform and we incorporated all registered users of Lokau.com into our platform.

In November 2005, we acquired certain operations of a regional competitor in e-commerce, DeRemate.com Inc., or DeRemate, including all of its operations and the majority of the shares of capital stock of its subsidiaries in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela for an aggregate purchase price of $12.1 million, net of cash acquired. This acquisition increased our user base by approximately 1.3 million confirmed registered users and solidified our market leadership position in Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay. We did not acquire DeRemate’s Argentine and Chilean subsidiaries in 2005. Instead, these subsidiaries continued to operate under the control of certain previous stockholders of DeRemate until 2008.

In August 2007, we completed our initial public offering pursuant to which 2,608,696 shares of common stock were sold by us, resulting in net proceeds to us of approximately $49.6 million, and 13,468,489 shares were sold by certain selling stockholders.

In January 2008, we acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of capital stock of Classified Media Group, Inc., or CMG, and its subsidiaries for an aggregate purchase price of $19.0 million. CMG and its subsidiaries operate an online classified advertisements platform primarily dedicated to the sale of vehicles at www.tucarro.com in Venezuela, Colombia and Puerto Rico and real estate at www.tuinmueble.com in Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, the United States, Costa Rica and the Canary Islands.

In September 2008, we acquired the remaining operations of DeRemate.com in Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia for an aggregate purchase price of $37.6 million and we also purchased certain URLs, domains, trademarks, databases and intellectual property rights from it for $2.4 million, subject to certain set off rights and working capital adjustment clauses.

In September 2011, we acquired 60% of the outstanding membership interests of Autopark LLC, a limited liability company organized under the laws of Delaware, which holds 100% of the ownership interests of AP Clasificados, an online classified advertisements platform in

 

3


 

Mexico primarily dedicated to the sale of vehicles at www.autoplaza.com.mx and real estate at www.homeshop.com.mx. The aggregate purchase price paid in cash was $5.5 million and includes URLs, domain names, trademarks, databases non-compete agreements and intellectual property rights that are used or useful in connection with the online platforms of the acquired business. Additionally, in December 2014, we exercised the call option and acquired the remaining 40% of the membership interests in Autopark LLC. we paid $4.0 million for this remaining 40% interest.

In March 2013, we acquired 100% of the equity interests in an Argentine software development company located in the Province of Cordoba, Argentina, for an aggregate purchase price of $3.4 million. The objective of this acquisition was to enhance our software development capabilities.

In April 2014, we acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of capital stock of the companies VMK S.A., Inmobiliaria Web Chile S. de R.L. de C.V. and Inmuebles Online S.A., companies that operate online classified advertisements platforms dedicated to the sale of real estate in Chile through the Portal Inmobiliario brand (www.portalinmobiliario.com)  and in Mexico through the Guia de Inmuebles brand  (www.guiadeinmuebles.com). The aggregate purchase price was $ 38.0 million.

In December 2014, we acquired 100% of the equity interests in Business Vision S.A., an Argentine software development company located in the city of Buenos Aires, for an aggregate purchase price of $4.8 million. The objective of this acquisition was to enhance our software development capabilities.

In April 2015, we acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of capital stock of KPL Soluções Ltda., a company that develops enterprise resource planning (“ERP”) software for the e-commerce industry in Brazil, for and aggregate purchase price of $22.7 million. The objective of this acquisition was to offer an even more seamless way for our customers to sell on our marketplace.

Also in April 2015, we acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of capital stock of Metros Cúbicos, S.A. de C.V., a company that operates an online classified advertisement platform dedicated to the sale of real estate in Mexico.  The aggregate purchase price was $29.9 million. The objective of this acquisition was to increase our participation in the e-commerce business in that country.

Our strategy

We seek to serve people in Latin America by offering diverse e-commerce services that can improve the quality of life of those who use it, while creating significant value for our stockholders. We serve our buyers by giving them access to what we believe is a broader and more affordable variety of products and services than those available on other online and offline venues. We serve our sellers by allowing them to reach a larger and more geographically diverse user base at a lower overall cost and investment than offline venues. At the same time, we provide payment settlement services to facilitate such transactions, and advertising solutions to promote them. More broadly, we strive to make inefficient markets more efficient and in that process generate value for our stockholders. To achieve these objectives, we intend to pursue the following strategies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue to grow our business and maintain market leadership. We have focused and intend to continue to focus on growing our business by strengthening our position as the preferred online marketplace in each of the countries 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 endeavors, and through potential strategic acquisitions of key businesses and assets. In order to grow our core marketplace business, we must continue to attract larger sellers to our platform, including brands, manufacturers, and large retailers. Such sellers are recognizing the value of MercadoLibre as a sales channel, and having them on our site increases selection of quality products and enhances the MercadoLibre brand in the eyes of our users. Through our Official Stores initiative, we offer users a tailored experience with products sold directly from such sellers. Our sales team remains dedicated to attracting and supporting these new vendor segments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increase monetization of our transactions. We have focused and will continue to focus on improving the revenue generation capacity of our business by implementing initiatives designed to maximize the revenues we receive 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 paid-for fee-based features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take advantage of the natural synergies that exist between our services. We strive to leverage our different businesses to promote greater cross-usage among the businesses, thereby creating a virtuous ecosystem of e-commerce offerings. We promote the adoption of our MercadoPago payments solution on our marketplace as well as on our MercadoShops solution, to offer our MercadoClics advertising solutions to users of our marketplace, payments and shops solutions, and to encourage users of any of our services to experiment with the other solutions we offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4


 

 

 

Expand into additional transactional service offerings. Our strategic focus is to enable on-line transactions of multiple types of goods and services throughout Latin America. Consequently, we strive, and will continue to strive, to launch on-line 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) the offering of additional product categories in our marketplace business, (b) the expansion of our presence in vehicle, real estate and services classifieds, (c) the penetration of our on-platform payments services and the expansion of our off-platform payments services, (d) the penetration of our credit product offerings on and off our platform, (e) the penetration of our on-platform shipping services and (g) the offer of on-line software as e-commerce service solutions. We believe that a significant portion of our growth will be derived from these new or expanded product and service launches in the future. We are especially focused on driving adoption of our payments, credit and shipping solutions on our platform. Both of these solutions drive a better customer experience for both buyers and sellers on our platform marketplace, eliminating friction around transactions and improving monetization. We must continue to drive adoption of these services in the countries where they are currently available, while rolling out these solutions in new markets. Payments outside of our platform also represent an enormous growth avenue, especially in payments processing and financing. As credit card adoption and bank account penetration continue to increase across Latin America, the market for online and mobile payments will grow significantly. We believe it is imperative that MercadoPago captures that opportunity, especially as eCommerce and the number of online sellers continues to grow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enhance brand awareness. We believe that enhancing awareness of the MercadoLibre brand is important to achieve our business objectives. We intend to continue to promote and increase recognition of our brand through a variety of marketing and promotional campaigns. These may include marketing agreements with companies that have a significant online presence and advertising through traditional media, such as cable television. We may also use leading websites and other media such as affiliate programs, banner advertisements and keyword searches. In addition, we believe that by enhancing our e-commerce community experience, we promote greater brand awareness through word of mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on user loyalty and website enhancement. We will continue to focus on increasing purchase frequency and transaction volumes from our existing users. We intend to do so by maintaining an appealing and convenient platform for e-commerce, improving the functionality of our website to deliver a more efficient user experience and providing our users with the help of a dedicated customer support department. We employ a number of programs aimed to foster customer loyalty and repeated purchases, such as our MercadoLider loyalty program for high-volume sellers, our targeted and segmented direct marketing program, and MercadoPago special promotions and our MercadoEnvios shipping service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increase operational efficiency. We believe our business model provides us with an opportunity to generate healthy profit margins. We plan to maximize this potential by achieving economics of scale, maintaining controls on overhead costs and reducing variable costs whenever possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue to develop innovative and creative solutions. We intend to continually enhance our e-commerce platform in order to better serve both individuals and businesses that want to buy or sell goods and services online. We intend to continue investing to develop new tools and technologies that facilitate e-commerce on our platform and improve our users’ online experience on MercadoLibre, while addressing the distinctive cultural, geographical and other challenges of online commerce in Latin America. Within our constant focus on innovation, a key component of user experience is the vertical solutions we offer across key categories. These tailored vertical solutions improve user experience and therefore conversion, enabling customers to browse categories by applying filters, rather than merely search for specific items. We have developed and continue to innovate on such vertical solutions for our classifieds sites for Motors, Real Estate, and Services. Furthermore, we provide such an experience for fashion and apparel on our marketplace, driving growth in that category. In order to improve the user experience, we must continue to innovate by improving our existing verticalized categories and creating vertical solutions for new categories. Another key component of innovation is our open platform initiative, which has enabled third-party developers to access MercadoLibre’s APIs in order to build solutions that help both sellers and buyers on our platform. We have set up a small venture fund to invest in such startups that integrate with our platform, making several investments to date in Argentina and Brazil. Our open platform also enables large sellers to directly integrate their systems with our site, enabling us to attract and integrate brands, manufacturers, and large retailers. We must continue to open our platform across all solutions in order to promote further development of third-party solutions and easier integration for large retailers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serve our dynamic and active user community. We seek to operate MercadoLibre as an open and trusted web-based marketplace where users can access a broad market of products. We believe in treating our users with respect by applying a consistent set of policies that reinforce good online and offline behavior within our user community. We also seek to offer superior customer care in order to maintain the loyalty and satisfaction of our active user base. We continue to invest in customer experience to make it a competitive advantage. With roughly 1.380 customer service representatives across several countries, we strive to provide a superior experience to buyers and sellers, continuing to drive improvements in our Net Promoter Score.

The MercadoLibre Marketplace

The MercadoLibre Marketplace is an Internet-based commerce platform where buyers and sellers can meet, and consummate e-commerce transactions for a wide range of goods and services. The MercadoLibre Marketplace allows sellers to reach a large number of potential buyers more cost-effectively than through traditional offline commerce channels or other online venues. Our platform is a fully-automated, topically-

 

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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, and 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 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 organized using the same technological platform in each country where we operate. However, the site of each country has its own specific local website which has no interaction with our website in other countries. For example, searches carried out on our Brazilian site show only results of listings uploaded on that particular site and do not show listings from other countries. During 2015, visitors to our website were able to browse an average of over 37.1 million Marketplace listings daily, organized by country, in over 2,800 different product categories. We believe that we have achieved a critical mass of active buyers, sellers and product listings in most of the countries where we operate and that our business can be readily scaled to handle increases in our user base and transaction volume. At December 31, 2015, we had over 144.6 million confirmed registered MercadoLibre Marketplace users, up from 120.9 million and 99.5 million at December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. During 2015, in our Marketplace, we had 6.2 million unique sellers, 23.6 million unique buyers and 128.4 million successful items sold as compared to i) 5.5 million unique sellers, 22.0 million unique buyers and 101.3 million successful items sold during 2014 and ii) 5.1 million unique sellers, 20.2 million unique buyers and 83.0 million successful items sold during 2013. Finally, our Marketplace gross merchandise volume (“GMV”) was $7.2 billion in 2015, as compared to $7.1 billion in 2014 and $7.3 billion in 2013.

The MercadoLibre Classifieds Service

The MercadoLibre Classifieds Service enables users to list their offerings related to vehicles, real estate, and services outside the Marketplace platform. 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 Marketplace and non-marketplace businesses.

In 2015, MercadoLibre visitors were able to browse an average of 1.7 million classifieds listings daily, including approximately 656,000 in Real Estate, 903,000 in motors, and 113,000 in services per day. During 2015, we had a total of 2.4 million unique sellers and 15.2 million paid listings through the MercadoLibre Classifieds Service, as compared to i) 2.3 million unique sellers and 11.6 million paid listings during 2014 and ii) 2.5 million unique sellers and 11.0 million paid listings during 2013.

The MercadoPago online payments solution

To complement the MercadoLibre Marketplace, we developed MercadoPago, an integrated online payments solution. MercadoPago is designed to facilitate transactions both on and off the MercadoLibre Marketplace by providing a mechanism that allows our users to securely, easily and promptly send and receive payments online. MercadoPago enables any user registered with MercadoPago to securely and easily send and receive payments online to pay for purchases made in the MercadoLibre Marketplace. MercadoPago is currently available to MercadoLibre users in each of Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile and Colombia.

MercadoPago is also available for purchases of goods and services outside the MercadoLibre Marketplace, as an open on-line payment service in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile and Colombia. The off platform service is designed to meet the growing demand for Internet-based payments systems in Latin America. Users are able to transfer money to other users with MercadoPago accounts and to incorporate MercadoPago as a means of payments on their independent commerce websites. MercadoPago allows merchants to facilitate checkout and payment processes on their website and also enable users to simply transfer money to each other either through the website or using the MercadoPago App available in iOS and Android.  MercadoPago allows merchants who are not registered with the MercadoLibre Marketplace to receive payments as long as they register with MercadoPago. It also allows consumers to pay MercadoPago registered-merchants either by registering with MercadoPago or by providing their credit card information as a “guest user”.

Furthermore, MercadoPago offers online sellers who accept MercadoPago as a method of payment to integrate MercadoPago with their checkout flow, thereby streamlining the shopping and payment processes. We believe that the ease of use, safety and efficiency of MercadoPago will allow us to generate additional transactions in the future from web merchants that sell items outside the MercadoLibre Marketplace. We believe that there is a significant business opportunity to increase adoption of MercadoPago as a payment mechanism both on and off the MercadoLibre Marketplace for years to come.

In July 2015, MercadoPago launched a mobile point of sale service in Brazil which allows merchants or individuals to process physical credit and debit cards, either by reading the chip and entering the personal identification number, or PIN, of the card or by swiping it, depending on the type of card.

During the year ended December 31, 2015, our on and off-platform users paid approximately $5,184.1 million using MercadoPago, which represented 72.5% of our gross merchandise volume for the year. During the year ended December 31, 2014, our on and off-platform users paid approximately $3,523.2 million using MercadoPago, which represented 49.7% of our gross merchandise volume for that year. During the year ended December 31, 2013, our users paid approximately $2,497.7 million using MercadoPago, which represented 34.2% of our gross merchandise volume for that year.

 

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We seek to increase the adoption and penetration of MercadoPago among MercadoLibre Marketplace users. In the countries where MercadoPago was available, as of December 31, 2015, approximately 65.2% of the MercadoLibre Marketplace’s listings accepted MercadoPago for payments and 77.9% of our total gross merchandise volume (excluding motor vehicles, vessels, aircraft and real estate) in these countries was completed through MercadoPago. Starting in Brazil in January 2010, in Argentina in March 2010, in Mexico in April 2011, in Venezuela in July 2012 and in Colombia in November 2013, all paid listings on the MercadoLibre Marketplace (excluding free listings and classifieds) were required to offer MercadoPago.

MercadoEnvios shipping Service

MercadoEnvios is a shipping solution for marketplace users, available in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Additionally, during the second half of 2015 we also launched our shipping solution in Colombia. MercadoEnvios achieves economies of scale through integration with local carriers driving down shipping costs and eliminating friction for buyers and sellers.

MercadoLibre Advertising services

The MercadoLibre Advertising platform, which we commonly refer to as “MercadoClics”, enables large retailers, small and medium brands and various other consumer brands to promote their products and services on the Internet by providing branding and performance marketing solutions. Advertisers place text, display or banner advertisements on our website in order to promote their brands and offerings. MercadoClics is an advertising tool that enables advertisers to acquire traffic through text ads placed on search results on our platform. Advertisers can purchase specific categories, on a cost per click basis or per impression basis, where their advertisements could appear as a result of a bidding process with other relevant advertisements.

MercadoShops online webstores service

MercadoShops is a software-as-a-service, fully hosted online webstore solution. Through MercadoShops users can set-up, manage and promote on-line webstores. These webstores are hosted by MercadoLibre and offer integration with the other marketplace, payments and advertising 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 MercadoLibre 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 portals and networks across Latin America, cable and air television, paid and natural positioning in leading search engines, email marketing, onsite marketing and presence in offline events. Our expenditures in marketing activities were $58.5 million during 2015, $50.6 million during 2014 and $38.1 million during 2013.

Specifically, we rely mostly on online advertising to promote our brand and attract potential buyers and sellers to our websites and we complement this performance marketing strategy with specific offline activities. To summarize, we focus on the following key marketing initiatives:

·

Entering into agreements with search platforms, portals, social networks and websites that we believe can reach our target audience. These agreements allow us to purchase online advertising positions where we can market ourselves and show relevant promotions to potential and registered users

·

Investing in preferential placement on the most popular search engines in each country where we operate, such as Google Search. We purchase advertising space next to the results of more than 35 million keywords related to our activities. Structuring our website so that it appears among the top natural results for certain keyword searches

·

Continuing to focus on customizing our buying and selling experiences to make it easier for users to find and buy items by offering formats dedicated to specific categories. In 2015, we offered more “verticalized experiences”, adding new features in our Fashion, Autoparts and Home & Garden categories as well as launching targeted advertising campaigns based on consumers’ category preferences

·

Accelerating our aggressive mobile marketing strategy. In 2015, we continued to develop our smartphone Apps, focusing mainly on obtaining additional App users

·

Continuing to invest in offline and online marketing events around Black Friday and Cyber  Monday, which were strong selling events in all our markets in 2015

·

Continuing to use radio and magazine ads to promote our vehicles’ classifieds business, which category serves as a leader in all our markets

·

Completing our first full year with the new Oracle Responsys, Oracle’s cross-channel solution for marketing to consumers, platform which allowed us to automate, escalate, and better orchestrate our email marketing program providing multichannel integration

 

 

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We also conduct a variety of initiatives that focus on attracting and training sellers. We organize events such as “MercadoLibre Universities” and seller meetings in all countries where we have an office. MercadoLibre Universities are full-day sessions comprised of advanced users whom we teach how to sell on our platform. During seller meetings, we teach sellers with high-potential or with MercadoLider status more advanced selling techniques and allow them to discuss issues of interest with our employees.

The positioning of the MercadoLibre brand among Internet users is one of our key marketing concerns, and our goal is to position MercadoLibre’s name and concept as the preferred platform in the public’s mind. In 2015 we launched our new regional advertising campaign, “Never Stop Seeking”, in online and offline media.  We conduct surveys every year in our key markets to gauge the position of our brand in the minds of consumers. We consistently appear at the top of these surveys in areas such as consumer recall and preference for e-commerce and online commerce sites. We believe these ratings are the result of the quality of our product and our marketing efforts.

Product development

At December 31, 2015, we had 848 employees on our information technology and product development staff, an increase from 639 employees at December 31, 2014, due to new hires and as a consequence of the acquisition of KPL Soluções Ltda. in April 2015 which increased our information technology and product development staff by 92 employees. We incurred product development expenses (including salaries) in the amount of $76.4 million in 2015, $53.6 million in 2014 and $40.9 million in 2013. We also incurred information technology capital expenditures, including software licenses, amounting to $25.8 million in 2015, $22.7 million in 2014 and $22.0 million in 2013.

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 development of new and improved features usually begins by listening to suggestions from our community of users. We hold meetings periodically with both, regular and highly active users to obtain feedback regarding our services, as well as suggestions and ideas for possible additional features on the MercadoLibre Marketplace and MercadoPago websites. We also receive suggestions from our chat rooms and bulletin boards. Additionally, we monitor the market for new features, formats and elements that could be adapted to our platform to improve our users’ experience.

We place significant importance on the testing and implementation phase of newly developed features. After an internal team ensures that new features and upgrades are working properly, we typically involve a select group of users in testing these features before we release them to the general public. Through this process we receive feedback and suggestions on how to enhance the final details of a feature. Additionally, we typically introduce new features country by country, in order to isolate and resolve any potential problems and subsequently release improved versions to countries yet to be introduced to the new features.

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 grows 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. Since our inception in 1999, we have had a development center in Buenos Aires where we concentrate the majority of our development efforts. In June of 2007, we also launched a second development center in the province of San Luis in Argentina. The center 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. In 2012, we opened our newest development center in Aguada Park, Montevideo, Uruguay, which is dedicated to software development activities. We also have other research and/or development centers in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela.

In March 2013, we acquired 100% of the equity interests in an Argentine software development company located in the Province of Cordoba, Argentina, and in December 2014, we acquired 100% of the equity interests in a software development company based in the city of Buenos Aires. The objective of these acquisitions was to enhance our software development capabilities.

While we have developed most of our software technology in-house, we also outsource certain projects to outside developers. We believe that outsourcing the development of these projects allows us to have a greater operating capacity and strengthens our internal know-how by incorporating new expertise to our business. In addition, our team of developers frequently interacts with technology suppliers and attends technology-related events to familiarize itself with the latest inventions and developments in the field.

Since 2010, we have been continuously working on a deep technology overhaul that is allowing us 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. On October 31, 2012, we opened our platform to the developers’ community in a launching event that took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  We seek to continue spreading the opening of our platform to developers in the other locations in which we operate with the objective of continuing to enhance our ecosystem.

 

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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. In addition, the widespread adoption of new Internet, networking or telecommunications technologies or other technological changes could require us to make substantial capital expenditures investments to modify or adapt our services or infrastructure. See “Risk Factors—Risks related to 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, and on the continued market acceptance of our products and services.”

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, Mexico and Venezuela, the slowest months for which are the summer months of July, August and September.

Competition

The market for trading over the Internet is rapidly evolving and highly competitive, and we expect competition to intensify even further in the future. Barriers-to-entry for large, established Internet companies are relatively low, and current and new competitors can launch new sites at relatively low cost using commercially available software. While we are currently the market leaders in a number of the markets in which we operate, we currently or potentially compete with a limited number of smaller marketplace operators, such as Alamaula in Argentina and Rakuten in Brazil. We also compete with businesses that offer business-to-consumer online e-commerce services such as pure play Internet retailer Submarino (a website of B2W Inc.), Cnova, Aliexpress or others with a focus on specific vertical categories, such as Netshoes, which focuses on sports & apparel and Dafiti, which focuses on fashion.

There are also a growing number of brick and mortar retailers who have launched on line offerings such as Americanas (a website of B2W Inc), Casas Bahia, Walmart and Falabella, and shopping comparison sites located throughout Latin America such as Buscape and Bondfaro. In the classified advertising market we compete with regional players such as OLX and Viva  Street, and with local players such as Webmotors, and Zap, which have strong positions in certain markets.

In addition, we face competition from a number of large online communities and services that have expertise in either, developing online commerce, facilitating online interaction, or both. Some of these competitors, such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook currently offer a variety of online services, and have the potential to introduce online commerce to their large user populations. Other large companies with strong brand recognition and experience in online commerce, such as large newspaper or media companies, also compete in the online listing market in Latin America.

In September 2001, we entered into a strategic alliance with eBay, through which eBay became one of our stockholders and started working with us to better serve the Latin American online commerce community. As part of this strategic alliance, we acquired eBay’s Brazilian subsidiary at the time, iBazar, and eBay agreed not to compete with us in the region during the term of the agreement, which ended on September 24, 2006. This agreement also provided us with access to certain know-how and experience, which accelerated aspects of our development. Even though eBay continues to be one of our stockholders, since the termination of this agreement, there are no contractual restrictions preventing eBay from competing with us. For example, in 2012, eBay acquired Alamaula.com, classifieds site which operates in many of the countries in which we operate.

MercadoPago competes with existing online and offline means of payment businesses, including, among others, banks and other providers of traditional means of payment, particularly credit cards, checks, money orders, and electronic bank deposits, international online payments services such as Paypal and Google Checkout, local online payment services such as DineroMail in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, and Bcash and PagSeguro in Brazil, money remitters such as Western Union, the use of cash, which is often preferred in Latin America, and offline funding alternatives such as cash deposit and money transfer services. Some of these services may operate at lower commission rates than MercadoPago’s current rates.

 

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Finally, Amazon started operations in Brazil during 2012 by offering on-line content. We do not compete in this space, however the consolidation and expansion of their operations in Brazil could eventually lead to more direct competition.

Intellectual property

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 where we operate, in the United States and in certain other Latin American countries. Generally, we register the name “MercadoLibre,” “MercadoLivre,” “MercadoPago” and “MercadoEnvios” as well as our handshake logo, and other names and logos in each country where we operate. As part of our acquisition of DeRemate, we acquired the trademarks of DeRemate and CMG, respectively, throughout the countries where they operated as well as certain other jurisdictions.

Autopark LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of our Company, has 100% ownership of AP Clasificados which owns trademarks of Autoplaza.com.mx and Homershop.com.mx in Mexico. We wholly-own VMK S.A. (merged with Meli Inversiones SpA since August 2014), Inmobiliaria Web Chile S. de R.L. de C.V. and Inmuebles Online S.A., companies that operate online classified advertisements platforms dedicated to the sale of real estate in Chile through the Portal Inmobiliario brand and in Mexico through the Guia de Inmuebles brand. Additionally, during 2015, we wholly-owned interest of Metros Cúbicos dedicated to the sale of real estate in Mexico and KPL Soluções Ltda., a company that develops ERP software for the e-commerce industry 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 party technologies

We also rely on certain technologies that we license from third parties, such as Oracle Corp., SAP AG, Salesforce.com Inc., Microstrategy, Teradata, Radware, Juniper Networks, Cisco Systems Inc., Arista Networks, Imperva, F5 Networks, and Net  App, the suppliers of key database technology, the operating system and specific hardware components for our services.

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, 2015:

 

 

 

 

 

Country

  

Number of Employees

Argentina

  

1,252 

Brazil

  

975 

Colombia

  

80 

Chile

  

122 

Mexico

  

161 

Uruguay

  

584 

Venezuela

  

124 

Total

  

3,298 

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.

 

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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 Internet 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. A significant portion of our personnel has been with us for several years, and we strive to obtain more talent by hiring individuals with an Internet-related background and experience. 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.”

In order to support our Human Resources department, we use SuccessFactors and SAP’s human resources payroll module across our business. We believe this allows us to centralize our employee database and manage important human resource functions, such as payroll processing (to improve our controls and reduce certain administrative costs), staffing, development and performance management.

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 or mobile payments, data collection, data protection, privacy, information requirements for Internet providers, 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, 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 (including the imposition to provide certain information about transactions that occurred on our platform, or about our users), 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.

We are also subject to regulations in Argentina that impose sales taxes and VAT collection obligations on the Company based on users’ sales through the platform. Other jurisdictions may issue new legislation in that regard. If users were to reduce or stop using our website or services as a result of these regulations, our business would be harmed.

In Brazil, since the approval of the Law No. 12,865 on October 9, 2013 and certain rules issued by the Brazilian Central Bank in November 2013, we are subject to new obligations imposed on certain payment processing functions carried out by non-financial institutions. During December 2014, we submitted to the Brazilian Central Bank our application to become an authorized payment institution in Brazil. As of the date of this report, we have not received such authorization.

These regulations cover a wide variety of issues, including, among other things: rules related to the requirement to obtain Brazilian Central Bank authorization to operate, offering or providing those services, penalties for non-compliance, the promotion of financial inclusion, the reduction of systemic, operational and credit risks, reporting obligations and governance.

In October 2014, Colombia enacted the Law No. 1,735 which creates a special financial institution to provide certain payment services and covers a wide variety of issues, including, among other things: rules related to the requirement to obtain authorization from the Colombian Superintendencia Financiera (Financial Supervision Authority) to operate, offer or provide certain payment services, penalties for non-compliance, the promotion of financial inclusion, reporting obligations and governance. In 2015 the Law No. 1,735 was regulated by Decree 1491 of 2015, which established specific requirements to open accounts, and policies for cash and risk management.

Uruguay and Peru recently 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, penalties for non-compliance, reporting obligations and governance. 

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, we may need to secure governmental authorizations or licenses or comply with regulations applicable to financial institutions, electronic or mobile payments and/or anti-money laundering in the countries where we offer this service.

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

 

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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.

On May 15, 2007, the Argentine Ministry of Economy approved MercadoLibre S.A. (this subsidiary changed its legal name in 2010 to MercadoLibre S.R.L.), our wholly owned Argentine subsidiary, as a beneficiary of the Argentine Regime to promote the software industry. Benefits of receiving this status included a 70% discount on mandatory Argentine labor taxes, a 60% reduction of Argentine income tax payable and a fixed federal tax rate in Argentina until September 2014.

On August 17, 2011, the Argentine government issued a new software development law and on September 9, 2013, the regulatory decree for this new law was issued, which established new requirements to become a beneficiary of the new software development law. The decree established compliance requirements with annual incremental ratios related to exports of services and research and development expenses that must be achieved to qualify for relief under the new software development law. To be a beneficiary of the new software development law, our Argentine subsidiary will have to achieve certain required ratios annually under the new software development law.

The Industry Secretary resolution which rules, among other provisions, on the mechanism to file the information to obtain the benefits derived from the new software development law was issued in late February 2014. During May 2014, the Company presented all the required documentation in order to apply for the new software development law.

On September 17, 2015, the Argentine Industry Secretary issued Resolution 1041/2015 approving the Company’s application for eligibility under the new software development law. As a result, the Company’s Argentinean subsidiary has been granted a tax holiday retroactive from September 18, 2014. A portion of the benefits obtained as beneficiaries of the new law is 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.

The new software development law, which provides that beneficiaries must meet certain on-going eligibility requirements, will expire on December 31, 2019. As a result of our eligibility under the new law, we recorded an income tax benefit of $24.6 million during 2015, corresponding $21.0 million to the income tax benefit of the year 2015 and $3.6 million of the fourth quarter of 2014. Furthermore, we recorded a labor cost benefit of $5.2 million, corresponding $3.9 million to the labor cost benefit of the year 2015 and $1.3 million of the fourth quarter of 2014. Additionally, $2.0 million were reserved to pay software development law audit fees.

Finally, the Venezuelan Government issued a decree of Fair Prices that was published in the Official Gazette N° 40,787 dated November 12, 2015 which establishes a maximum profit margin of 30% of the cost structure of good or service sold in each participant in the commercialization chain. The Decree expresses that its purpose is to assure the development of the national economy by determining fair prices of goods and services, profit margins, commercialization mechanisms, and control to be exercised in order to assure access by the individuals to goods and services at fair prices. The determination, modification, and control of prices is under the competence of the Executive which will be exercised through the National Superintendence for Defense of Socioeconomic Rights (SUNDDE).

The Decree establishes different penalties ranging between 2 and 18 years of imprisonment, or expropriation, adoption of measures as temporary occupation and/or seizure of goods. The Decree also imposes fines ranging from 200 Tax Units to 50,000 Tax Units; temporarily suspend the Single Registry of Persons that Develop Economic Activities (RUPDAE) from 3 months to 10 years; issue measures of temporary occupation with intervention of warehouses, storehouses, industries, commercial establishments, transport of goods, for up to 180 days; temporarily shut down warehouses, storehouses or establishments engaged in the commerce, preservation, storage, production, or processing of goods for up to 180 days, or closure, or confiscation of goods among other measures. The Decree also establishes penalties up to 20% of the annual net income of the infringer. The Decree also establishes that directors, partners, representatives, managers, supervisors and administrators will be jointly and severally liable (civil, criminal or administrative) with the company found in violation of the Decree.

Our Management is analyzing the potential effects of this law together with the new implementation Decree issued by the Venezuelan Government.

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 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 15 East North Street, Dover, Delaware. Our principal executive offices are located at Arias 3751, 7th Floor, Buenos Aires, Argentina, C1430CRG.

Available Information

 

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We maintain a website, http://www.mercadolibre.com, which contains additional information concerning our Company. 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.

 

 

 

 

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

The market for the sale of goods over the Internet in Latin America is developing, and our business depends on the continued growth of online commerce and the availability and suitability of the Internet in Latin America.

The market for the sale of goods over the Internet is a developing market in Latin America. Our future revenues depend substantially on Latin American consumers’ widespread acceptance and 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 to exist or to develop and grow at a continued rapid pace or at all. For us to grow our user base successfully, consumers who have historically used traditional means of commerce to purchase goods and services must accept and use new ways of conducting business and exchanging information. Furthermore, the price of personal computers and Internet access may limit our potential growth in countries with low levels of Internet penetration and/or high levels of poverty.

In addition, the Internet may not be commercially viable in Latin America in the long term for a number of reasons, including potentially inadequate development of the necessary network infrastructure or delayed development of enabling technologies, performance improvements and security measures. The infrastructure for the Internet may 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. If telecommunications services change or are not sufficiently available to support the Internet, response times would be slower, which would adversely affect use of the Internet and our service in particular.

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, and on the continued market acceptance of our products and services.

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 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. We are frequently implementing hardware and software technology upgrades, which may include migrations to new technology systems, in an effort to improve our systems. Our information technology systems may experience errors, interruptions, delays or cessations of service. We are particularly susceptible to errors in connection with any systems upgrade or migration to a different hardware or software system 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. Moreover, 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

 

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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. We are subject to a number of other laws and regulations, and governments may enact laws or regulations that could adversely affect our business.

Unlike the United States, most 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, other illegal activities committed by individual users or third-party infringing content hosted on a provider’s servers. This legal uncertainty allows for different judges or courts to decide very similar claims in different ways and establish contradictory jurisprudence.

In addition, certain judges may decide that Internet service providers are liable to an intellectual property owner for a user’s sale of counterfeit items using our platform, while others may decide that the responsibility lies solely with the offending user. This legal uncertainty allows for rulings against us and could set adverse precedents, which individually or in the aggregate could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, legal uncertainty may negatively affect our clients’ perception and use of our services.

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 or mobile payments, information requirements for Internet providers, data collection, data protection, privacy, anti-money laundering, taxation (including VAT or sales tax collection obligations), 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. It is not clear how existing laws governing issues such as general commercial activities, property ownership, copyrights and other intellectual property issues, taxation (including tax laws that require us to provide certain information about transactions consummated through our platforms or about our users), libel and defamation, obscenity, and personal privacy apply to online businesses. Many 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 laws and regulations could cover issues such as online commerce, Internet service providers’ responsibility for third party content hosted in their servers, user privacy, freedom of expression, pricing, content and quality of products and services, taxation (including VAT or sales tax collection obligations, obligations to provide certain information about transactions occurred in our platforms or about our users), advertising, intellectual property rights, consumer protection, information security and electronic and mobile electronic or payments. If laws relating to these issues are enacted, they may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation and financial condition.

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. For example, numerous jurisdictions, including Brazil and Argentina, have regulations regarding “auctions” and “auctioneers” and the handling of property by “secondhand dealers” or “pawnbrokers.” 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, because our services are accessible worldwide and we facilitate sales of goods to users worldwide, other 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 laws relating to the collection, use, storage and transfer of personally identifiable information about our users, especially financial information. Several jurisdictions have regulations in this area, and other jurisdictions 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 also subject to regulations in Argentina that impose VAT and sales tax collection obligations and taxes on banking transactions in certain provinces in connection with users’ sales through our platform. It is possible that other jurisdictions will issue similar legislation in the future. If users were to reduce or stop using our website or services as a result, our business could be materially harmed. We are also subject to a regulation in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil that imposes on us the obligation to provide the applicable authorities in that state with the information on certain users in connection with their sales through our platform.

We are subject to regulatory activity and antitrust litigation under competition laws.

 

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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 unilateral 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 Internet users listing and purchasing their items and services on our Internet platform. Therefore, we depend on the commercial activity, including both sales and purchases 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, unpaid items or undelivered purchases, and the sale of defective 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.

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.

We believe that government and consumer protection agencies have received a substantial number of complaints about both the MercadoLibre Marketplace and MercadoPago. We believe that 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.

In addition, 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 require 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. Although the number of claims that we have paid through this program is not currently significant, 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, as discussed above, we may be liable in Brazil 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. For example, in June 2009, a judge of a first instance court in the State of São Paulo ruled that our Brazilian subsidiary should be held liable for fraud committed by sellers and losses incurred by buyers when purchasing items on the Brazilian version of the MercadoLibre website. We have appealed this ruling and in May 2014 the State Court of Appeals ruled that MercadoLivre shall not be held responsible for the quality, nature or defective products or services purchased through the Brazilian website however the decision on our liability for fraud committed by sellers/buyers

 

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when using the website is not clear. In June 2014, we filed a motion to clarify the decision however it was overruled by the State Court of Appeals. We appealed the decision to the Brazilian Federal Superior Court of Justice. If the Brazilian Federal Superior Court of Justice, confirms the ruling it could require us to restructure our business model in ways that would harm our business and or cause us to incur substantial costs. Moreover, this legal uncertainty allows for different judges or courts to decide very similar claims in different ways and establish contradictory jurisprudence.

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. During 2013, the Superior Court of Justice of Brazil issued a negative ruling against our Brazilian subsidiary finding it responsible for a spoof email received by a seller that appeared to be sent by MercadoPago. In that case, the seller delivered the item to the spoof buyer but never got paid and court ordered our Brazilian subsidiary to pay damages to the seller.

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 diminishes the value of our brands and negatively impact our results of operations.

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 we monitor listings on our websites, we are not able to detect 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. 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. Allegations of infringement of intellectual property rights could result in threats of litigation and actual litigation against us by rights owners.

Specifically, allegations of infringement of intellectual property rights have already resulted in claims against us from time to time, including litigation in Brazil brought (without limitation) by Cartier International B.V., Montblanc Simplo Gmbh, Richemont International S.A., Puma Sports Ltda., Lacoste do Brasil Indústria e Comercio Ltda., Sporloisirs S.A., Qix Skateboards Indústria e Comercio Ltda, Vintage Denim Ltda., Editora COC Empreendimentos Culturais Ltda., Barros Fischer e Associados Ltda., Fallms Distribuição de Fitas Ltda., 100% Nacional Distribuidora de Fitas Ltda., Xuxa Promoções e Produções Artísticas Limitada, Praetorium Instituto de Ensino, Pesquisas e Atividades de Extensão e Direito Ltda., Sette Informações Educacionãis Ltda., Serasa S.A., Botelho Industria e Distribuiçāo Cinematográfica Ltda., and Citizen Watch do Brasil S/A and in Argentina brought by Nike International Ltd., Iglesia Mesianica Mundial Sekai Kyusei Kio.

While we have been largely successful to date in settling existing claims by agreeing to monitor the brands, the current lack of laws related to the Internet results in great uncertainty as to the outcome of any future claims. Other companies providing similar services to us have also been subject to these types of claims in the United States and other countries. In June 2008, the Paris Court of Commerce ruled that eBay, Inc. and eBay International AG were liable to Louis Vuitton Malletier and Christian Dior Couture for failing to prevent the sale of counterfeit items on its websites that traded on plaintiffs’ brand names and for interfering with the plaintiffs’ selective distribution network. The court awarded plaintiffs approximately EUR 38.6 million in damages and issued an injunction prohibiting all sales of perfumes and cosmetics bearing the Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy and Kenzo brands over all worldwide eBay sites to the extent they are accessible from France. We cannot assure you that MercadoLibre and MercadoPago will not be subject to similar suits, which could result in substantial monetary awards or penalties and costly injunctions against us.

We continue to have outstanding litigation and, although we generally intend to defend each of these claims, we cannot assure you that we will be successful. This type of litigation is expensive for us, could result in damage awards or increased costs of doing business through adverse judgments or settlements, could require us to change our business practices in expensive ways, or could otherwise harm our business. Litigation against other online companies could result in interpretations of the law that could also require us to change our business practices or otherwise increase our costs.

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. Other online services companies are facing several lawsuits for

 

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this type of liability. As mentioned previously, the liability of online services companies for content hosted and the information carried on or disseminated through their services is currently unclear in the Latin American countries where we operate. This could allow for claims being made against us by purportedly aggrieved third parties. For example, the MercadoLibre service contains a User Feedback feature, which includes reviews and ratings from users regarding the reliability of other users in paying or delivering goods sold in a transaction promptly. Although users generate all the feedback, it is possible that a party could bring a claim for defamation or other injury against us for content posted through the User Feedback feature. 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 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.

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.

Our systems may fail or suffer interruptions due to human acts, technical problems or natural disasters.

Our success, and in particular our ability to facilitate trades or payments successfully and provide high quality customer service, depends on the efficient and uninterrupted operation of our computer and communications hardware systems. 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 redundant database backup 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. If our system suffers a major failure, it would take as much as several days to get the service running again because our Atlanta database is only a backup with very limited hardware.

We also have no formal disaster recovery plan or alternative providers of hosting services and do not carry business interruption insurance to compensate us for losses that may occur. Despite any precautions we have taken or plan to take, if there is a natural disaster or major failure, a decision by our providers to close one of the facilities we use without adequate notice, or other unanticipated problem at the Virginia or Atlanta facilities, the services we provide could suffer interruptions. We currently have no plans to upgrade the Atlanta facility capabilities. Additionally, in the occurrence of such pronounced, frequent or persistent system failures, our reputation and name brand could be materially adversely affected.

 

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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 online commerce and communications is the secure transmission of confidential information over public networks. Currently, a number 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. 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. If our security were compromised, it could have a material adverse effect on our reputation. 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 and financial condition.

As stated above, our users are targeted by parties using fraudulent “spoof” and “phishing” emails to misappropriate passwords, credit card numbers, or other personal information or to introduce viruses to our users’ computers. Those emails 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 intentionally misstate that payment for a product was credited in MercadoPago and request that the recipient of the email send the product sold or provide 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 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.

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 up-front fees, final value fees and fees related to our payment solution and shipping fees we charge to sellers 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 for listing and upon selling their items and services. 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 listing or 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.

We derive substantially all of our revenues from fees charged to sellers for listing products for sale on our service, fees from successfully completed transactions and fees for making payments through MercadoPago and fees for delivering product through MeliEnvios. 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.

Retailers may encourage manufacturers to limit distribution of their products to dealers who sell through us, or may encourage the government to limit online 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. The adoption by manufacturers of

 

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policies, or the adoption of new laws or regulations or interpretations of existing laws or regulations by government authorities, in each case discouraging the sales of goods or services over the Internet, could force our users to stop selling certain products on our websites. Increased competition or anti-Internet distribution policies or regulations may 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.

In addition, Amazon started operations in Brazil during 2012 by offering on-line content. We do not compete in this space; however, the consolidation and expansion of their operations in Brazil, could eventually lead to more direct competition.

 

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, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela 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 you that we would be able to obtain these licenses in a timely manner or at all.

In Brazil, since the approval of the Law No. 12,865 on October 9, 2013 and certain rules issued by the Brazilian Central Bank in November 2013, we are subject to new obligations imposed on certain payment processing functions carried out by non-financial institutions. These regulations cover a wide variety of issues, including, among other things, a requirement to obtain Brazilian Central Bank authorization to operate, requirements relating to the offer or provision of such services, penalties for non-compliance, the promotion of financial inclusion, the reduction of systemic, operational and credit risks, reporting obligations and governance. 

In October 2014, Colombia enacted the Law No. 1,735 which special financial institution to provide certain payment services and covers a wide variety of issues, including, among other things rules related to the requirement to obtain authorization from the Colombian Superintendencia Financiera (Financial Supervision Authority) to operate, offer or provide certain payment services, penalties for non-compliance, the promotion of financial inclusion, reporting obligations and governance. In 2015 the Law No. 1,735 was regulated by Decree 1491 of 2015, which established specific requirements to open accounts, and policies for cash and risk management.

Our MercadoPago business may be subject to Law No. 1,735. The law requires certain institutions to request authorization to operate. If it is determined that the Colombian operation of MercadoPago is regulated by the Law and its regulations, we will have to request authorization for,  and implement certain changes to our operations and systems which will require us to incur greater expenses. If we are unable to obtain the requisite authorization, it could cause us to (i) shut down our MercadoPago business in Colombia 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 or (iii) limit the services we offer through MercadoPago in Colombia 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, like the MercadoLibre platform, is also susceptible to potentially illegal or improper uses, including, fraudulent and illicit sales, money laundering, bank fraud, different fraud schemes 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

 

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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.

In addition, 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 of different laws and regulations in each jurisdiction 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.

We incur losses from claims that customers 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 the 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.

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. We have neither an established operating history nor proven management experience in maintaining, over a long term, these 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.

MercadoPago is a relatively new service that faces competition from other payment method and competitors may adversely affect the success of MercadoPago.

MercadoPago competes with existing online and offline payment methods, including, among others, banks and other providers of traditional payment methods, particularly credit 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, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, and Bcash, PagSeguro and MOIP in Brazil; money remitters such as Western Union; the use of cash, which is often preferred in Latin America; and offline funding alternatives such as cash deposit and money transmission services. 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 than us. They may devote greater resources to the development, promotion, and sale of products and services than we do for MercadoPago. 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 than MercadoPago. 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 currently in the process of rolling out our Payments product in some countries in order to provide a better experience to our users. For the same reason we are also charging a single final value fee for the right to use MercadoLibre and MercadoPago in those transactions. This change may result in our experiencing a lower combined take rate. We consider MercadoPago’s direct payment’s product to be in early release and have identified several opportunities to improve upon the product. In addition, the transition to the new system may not be a smooth one. The occurrence of any of these events could adversely affect our business.

We continue to expand MercadoPago’s services internationally. We have no experience with the online payment solution in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal or Uruguay. The introduction of MercadoPago in certain new markets may require a close commercial relationship with one or more local banks. 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.

 

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Because MercadoPago is not a bank, we cannot belong to or directly access credit 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, credit card associations may increase the interchange fees that they charge for each transaction using one of their cards. The credit 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 MercadoPago and MercadoLibre’s processors to comply with credit card association operating rules. The credit card associations and their member banks set and interpret the credit card rules. Some of those member banks compete with MercadoPago. Visa, MasterCard, American Express or other credit 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 credit cards to fund their payments and MercadoLibre users the option to pay their fees using a 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 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 dramatically 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.

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 again deteriorates 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 and Mexico, we offer users the ability to pay for goods purchased in installments using MercadoPago. In 2015, 2014 and 2013, installment payments represented 58.5%, 53.9% and 52.2%, respectively, of MercadoPago’s total payment volume. To facilitate the offer of the installment payment feature, we pay interest to credit card processors and issuer banks in Mexico and Argentina and we pay interest to advance credit card coupons in Brazil. 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.

 

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

MercadoPago pays significant transaction fees when senders 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 approximately 79.3%, 79.0% and 79.5% of MercadoPago’s payment volume using credit cards during 2015, 2014 and 2013, 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. Senders 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 ticket mix could adversely affect MercadoPago’s results.

The transaction fees MercadoPago pays in connection with certain means of payment 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 its margin may erode or we may need to raise prices by including a fixed fee per transaction which, in turn, may affect the volume of transactions. During December 2015, we submitted to the Brazilian Central Bank our application to become an authorized payment institution in Brazil.

Recently approved legislation in Brazil relating to certain payment processing functions carried out by non-financial institutions, requires among other things, our MercadoPago operations to secure authorization from the Brazilian Central Bank to continue its operations and may limit our services, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

On May 17, 2013, the Brazilian government issued Medida Provisoria 615/13, or the Provisional Measure, which granted to the Brazilian Central Bank powers of regulation and supervision of certain payment processing functions carried out by certain non-financial institutions in Brazil. This regulation covers a wide variety of issues, including, among other things, rules related to authorization requirements for certain payment processing functions by non-financial institutions, penalties for non-compliance, the promotion of financial inclusion, the reduction of systemic, operational and credit risks, reporting obligations and governance. The Provisional Measure was approved by Congress as Law No. 12,865 on October 9, 2013. On November 4, 2013 the Brazilian Central Bank published certain rules relating to this law, covering among other issues, its powers of supervision and oversight of certain payment institutions and processing and payment functions carried out by certain non-financial institutions in Brazil.

As approved and regulated by the Brazilian Central Bank, our MercadoPago business in Brazil is subject to Law No. 12,865. The law requires payment institutions to request authorization until August 2014 and payment means until November 2014, therefore our MercadoPago operation has requested such authorization. The law also establishes certain requirements for our services and operations. To comply with this law, we implemented certain changes to our operations and systems incurring in greater expenses and devoting more resources to areas that required further development. During December 2015, we submitted to the Brazilian Central Bank our application to become an authorized payment institution in Brazil. As of the date of this report, we have not received such authorization.

There can be no assurance that we will obtain the requisite authorization. If we are unable to obtain the requisite authorization, it could cause us to (i) shut down our MercadoPago business in Brazil for an indefinite period of time, which would be costly and time consuming, (ii) pay penalties for non-compliance, (iii) limit the services we offer through MercadoPago in Brazil or change our business practices, any of which could materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.

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

In Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, we offer users our MercadoEnvios Shipping service through integration with local carriers. To achieve economies of scale, driving down shipping costs and eliminating friction for buyers and sellers, we pay to the local carriers the shipping costs and transfer those costs to our customers. If shipping costs increase, we may have to raise the shipping fees we charge to users and this would likely have a negative effect on MercadoEnvios’s shipping volume.

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

Because MercadoEnvios is not a carrier, we must rely on local carriers in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia to deliver items. We generally pay a fee for this service and transfer those fees to our customers. From time to time, local carriers may increase their fees that they charge for each transaction. If we cannot transfer these increased fees to our customers, the increase in operating costs of MercadoEnvios, could generate net losses in our MercadoEnvios operations.

 

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In addition, the failure of the Shipping providers with which we conduct business may have a material adverse effect on our Shipping service, operating results, and financial condition. As a result, we could lose our ability to provide shipping services to our customers.

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 service. We believe we do not require a license under the existing statutes of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia to operate MercadoEnvios with its current agency-based structure. If our operation of 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 or shipping 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 you that we would be able to obtain these licenses in a timely manner or at all.

We have no business insurance coverage, which would require us to spend significant resources in the event of a disruption of our services or other contingency.

Insurance companies in Latin America offer limited business insurance products. We do not carry any business liability or disruption insurance coverage for our operations. 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.

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 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, 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 domain names, trademarks, logos and service marks in each country where we operate, in the United States and in certain other Latin American countries. Effective trademark, service mark, copyright, domain name and trade secret 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. For example, since 1999, we have filed several applications to register the name “MercadoLivre” and our logo in Brazil. We have been granted the trademarks “Mercadolivre” (name and design, without the exclusivity to the use of the words “Mercado” and “Livre”) and “MercadoPago” (name and design). Nonetheless, many applications are still pending and certain applications were denied in that country under the argument that the name was descriptive of its activities. We cannot assure you that we will succeed in obtaining these trademarks or in our challenges to existing or future applications by other parties or by the Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial (the National Institute of Industrial Property). If we are not successful, MercadoLibre’s ability to protect its brand in Brazil against third-party infringers would be compromised and we could face claims by any future trademark owners. Any past or future 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 materially adversely 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.

From time to time, we are involved in other disputes or regulatory inquiries that arise in the ordinary course of business. The number and significance of these disputes and inquiries are increasing as our business expands and we grow larger. Any claims or regulatory actions against

 

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us, whether meritorious or not, could be time consuming, result in expensive litigation, require significant amounts of management time, and result in the diversion of significant operational resources.

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, such as Oracle Corp., SAP AG, Salesforce.com Inc., Microstrategy, Radware, Juniper Networks, Cisco Systems Inc., F5 Networks, and NetApp, the suppliers 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.

Complaints from customers or negative publicity about our services can diminish consumer confidence and adversely affect our business.

Because volume and growth in the number of new users of our services are key factors for our profitability, customer complaints or negative publicity about our customer service could severely diminish consumer confidence in and use of our services. Measures we sometimes take to combat risks of fraud and breaches of privacy and security can damage relations with our customers. To maintain good customer relations, we need prompt and accurate customer service to resolve irregularities and disputes. 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.

As part of our program to reduce fraud losses in relation to MercadoPago, we make use of MercadoPago anti-fraud models and we may temporarily restrict the ability of customers to withdraw their funds if we identify those funds or the customer’s account activity as suspicious. To date, MercadoPago has not been subject to any significant negative publicity about such restrictions. However, certain users who were banned from withdrawing funds or received fake mail appearing to be sent by MercadoPago have initiated legal actions against us in the past. As a result of our efforts to police the use of our services, MercadoPago may receive negative publicity, our ability to attract new MercadoPago customers may be damaged, and we could become subject to litigation. If any of these events happen, current and future revenues could suffer, and our database technology operating margins may decrease. In addition, negative publicity about or experiences with MercadoPago customer support could cause our reputation to suffer or affect consumer confidence in the MercadoLibre brand.

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 we have done in the past with our acquisitions of iBazar, Lokau, DeRemate, CMG, AutoPlaza, Neosur, Business Vision S.A, KPL Soluções Ltda and Metros Cúbicos S.A. de C.V. 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.

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

We believe that 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

 

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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 trading over the Internet 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 Alamaula.com, OLX.com and a number of other small services, including those that serve specialty markets. We also compete with business-to-consumer online e-commerce services, such as pure play Internet retailer Submarino (a website of B2W Inc), and a growing number of bricks 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, located throughout Latin America. 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 online commerce and facilitating online interaction. Certain of these competitors, including 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 online commerce to their large user populations. Other large companies with strong brand recognition and experience in online commerce, such as large newspaper or media companies also compete in the online listing market. Companies with experience in online commerce, such as Amazon, 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 DineroMail in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, and Bcash, PagSeguro and MOIP in Brazil; 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 in their properties 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 online 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 is already active locally in Brazil and Mexico.

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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Risks related to doing business in Latin America

Political and economic conditions in Venezuela may have an adverse impact on our operations.

We conduct significant operations in Venezuela, offering both our MercadoLibre Marketplace and MercadoPago online payments solution, through our Venezuelan subsidiaries. As of December 31, 2015we had 124 employees working in that country. As of and for year ended December 31, 2015, 6.2% of our consolidated net revenues and 8.6% of our consolidated net assets are derived from our Venezuelan subsidiaries, while 1.4% of our consolidated cash and investments are held in local Venezuelan currency by our Venezuelan subsidiaries.

The political and economic conditions in Venezuela are highly unstable, with the Venezuelan economy considered hyperinflationary under U.S. GAAP since 2010. We cannot predict the impact of any future political and economic events on our business, nor can we predict the economic and regulatory impact of the Venezuelan government’s current or future initiatives, including whether it will extend nationalization to e-commerce or other businesses, implement further price or profit controls or further restrict our ability to obtain or distribute U.S. dollars, all of which could impact our business and our results of operations. Nationalization of telecommunications, electrical or other companies could reduce our or our customers’ access to our website or our services or increase the costs of providing or accessing our services. Certain political events have also resulted in significant civil unrest in the country. Moreover, as a result of significantly lower oil prices in 2015 and reduced expectations for a significant recovery for oil prices in the next year, the risk of a severe economic crisis occurring in Venezuela in the near term remains high. Continuation or worsening of the political, social and economic conditions in Venezuela could materially and adversely impact our future business, financial condition and results of operations.

In recent years, Venezuela has suffered severe electricity shortages that prompted the Venezuelan government to declare an energy emergency. This situation could impact the operation of our automobile classifieds points of sale in Venezuela as well as our Venezuelan users’ ability to access the Internet, either of which could have a material adverse impact on our business.

In addition, the Venezuelan government has imposed foreign exchange and price controls on the local currency in recent years. These foreign exchange controls have significantly increased our costs and limited our ability to convert local currency into U.S. dollars and transfer funds out of Venezuela. In fact, since the Venezuelan government´s devaluation in February 2013, we have been unable to obtain U.S. dollars through the auction process established by government and we do not know when or if we will be able to obtain U.S. dollars through such a process in the future. As a result, the foreign exchange and price controls enacted in recent years by the Venezuelan government, and any future actions in this regard, could have a material adverse effect on our Venezuelan customers and our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, we cannot predict the long-term effects of exchange controls on our ability to process payments from Venezuelan customers or on the Venezuelan economy in general.

Since 2010, the Venezuelan government has been imposing foreign exchange and price controls on the local currency and created different foreign exchange systems to buy US dollars. On February 10, 2015, the Venezuelan government issued a decree that unifies the two previous foreign exchange systems “SICAD 1 and SICAD 2” into a new single system denominated SICAD, with an initial public foreign exchange price of 12 Bolivares Fuertes (“BsF”) per U.S. dollar. The SICAD auction process remains available only to obtain foreign currency to pay for a limited list of goods considered to be of high priority by the Venezuelan government, which does not include those relating to our business. In the same decree the Venezuelan government created the “Sistema Marginal de Divisas” (“SIMADI”), a new foreign exchange system that is separate from SICAD, which publishes a foreign exchange rate from the BCV on a daily basis.

In light of the disappearance of SICAD 2, and our inability to gain access to U.S. dollars through the new single system under SICAD, we started requesting and have been granted U.S. dollars through SIMADI. As a result, we now expect to settle our transactions through SIMADI and have concluded that the SIMADI exchange rate should be used to re-measure our bolivar-denominated monetary assets and liabilities and to re-measure the revenues and expenses of our Venezuelan subsidiaries effective as of March 31, 2015. In connection with this re-measurement, we recorded a foreign exchange loss of $20.4 million and a deferred income tax gain of $3.8 million during the first quarter of 2015. As of December 31, 2015, the SIMADI exchange rate was 198.70 Bs.F. per U.S. dollar. The average exchange rate for the first quarter of 2015 was 52.46 Bs.F. per U.S. dollar.

Considering this change in facts and circumstances and the lower U.S. dollar-equivalent cash flows now expected from our Venezuelan business, we have reviewed our long-lived assets, goodwill and intangible assets with indefinite useful life for impairment, and concluded that the carrying value of certain real estate investments in Venezuela as of March 31, 2015 will not be fully recoverable. As a result, we have recorded an impairment of long-lived assets of $16.2 million on March 31, 2015. The carrying amount has been adjusted to its estimated fair value as of March 31, 2015 by using the market approach and considering prices for similar assets.

Until 2010 we were able to obtain U.S. dollars for any purpose, including dividends distribution, using alternative mechanisms other than through the Commission of Administration of Foreign Currency of Venezuela (“CADIVI”). Those U.S. dollars, obtained at a higher exchange rate than the one offered by CADIVI and held in balance at U.S. bank accounts of our Venezuelan subsidiaries, were used for dividend distributions from our Venezuelan subsidiaries. Our Venezuelan subsidiaries have not requested authorization since 2012 to acquire U.S. dollars to make dividend distributions and we have not distributed dividends from our Venezuelan subsidiaries since 2011.

Our ability to obtain U.S. dollars in Venezuela is negatively affected by the exchange restrictions in Venezuela that are described above. If our access to U.S. dollars becomes widely available at a more unfavorable rate than the current SIMADI exchange rate (or if the SIMADI exchange rate experience one or more significant devaluation events in the future), and we decided to use that alternative mechanism considering that exchange rate as the one applicable for re-measurement, our results of operations, earnings and value of our net assets in Venezuela would be negatively impacted, and we cannot assure that the impact would not be material . In addition, our business and ability to obtain U.S. dollars

 

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in Venezuela would be negatively affected by any additional material devaluations or the imposition of significant additional and more stringent controls on foreign currency exchange by the Venezuelan government in the future.

We cannot predict the impact of any future political and economic events on our business, nor can we predict the economic and regulatory impact of the Venezuelan government’s current or future initiatives, including whether it will extend nationalization to e-commerce or other businesses, implement further price or profit controls or further restrict our ability to obtain or distribute U.S. dollars, all of which could impact our business and our results of operations. Nationalization of telecommunications, electrical or other companies could reduce our or our customers’ access to our website or our services or increase the costs of providing or accessing our services. Certain political events have also resulted in significant civil unrest in the country. Continuation or worsening of the political, social and economic conditions in Venezuela could materially and adversely impact our future business, financial condition and results of operations. 

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.

In the past, the performance of the economies of Latin American countries has been affected by each country’s political situation. For example, during its crisis in 2001 and 2002, Argentina experienced social and political turmoil, including civil unrest, riots, looting, protests, strikes and street demonstrations which have resulted in significant changes in its general economic policies and regulations. In the past, the Argentine, Venezuelan and Bolivian administrations have nationalized or announced plans to nationalize certain industries and expropriate certain companies and property, and, in Venezuela, as described above, the administration has imposed exchange controls.

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.

Pending legislation in Venezuela that would limit the maximum sale price that a seller could receive in connection with the sale of an automobile on our MercadoLibre Marketplace in Venezuela, could have a material adverse impact on our Venezuelan business and results of operations.

During August 2013, the Congress of Venezuela approved new legislation that imposes certain limits on the maximum sale prices that would be permitted for the sale of used and new vehicles in the country. Among other provisions, the legislation imposes certain obligations on our MercadoLibre Marketplace and Tucarro website in Venezuela to ensure that classified ads listed on these websites comply with the maximum sales price restrictions. Automobile sales represent a meaningful part of our business in Venezuela. As of the day of this report, this legislation has not been published in the Official Gazette nor enacted by the executive branch of government. If this legislation is finally enacted into law, it could cause us to, among other things, remove listings by sellers that fail to comply with the maximum sales price restrictions, to pay penalties for non-compliance, to limit our services or to change our business practices, any of which could have a material adverse impact on our Venezuelan business and results of operations.

On December 2013, the Decree N° 625 was published on the Official Gazette N° 6,117, which established a new set of rules regarding among others, the production and prices of motor vehicles assembled and sold in Venezuela. According to this Decree, the sale price of used cars should not exceed the sale price of new cars established by the government and the vehicles assembly companies. The Government and the vehicles assembly companies had to establish the prices of the new vehicles within twenty days after the publication of the Decree, however as of the date of this report, they have not been published yet.

Legislation in Venezuela that limits the maximum profit percentage regarding the sale of goods and services could have an adverse impact on our Venezuelan business and results of operations.

The Decree of Fair Prices was published in the Official Gazette N° 40,787 dated November 12, 2015 which establishes a maximum profit margin of 30% of the cost structure of good or service sold in each participant in the commercialization chain. The Decree expresses that its purpose is to assure the development of the national economy by determining fair prices of goods and services, profit margins, commercialization mechanisms, and control to be exercised in order to assure access by the individuals to goods and services at fair prices. The determination, modification, and control of prices is under the competence of the Executive which will be exercised through the National Superintendence for Defense of Socioeconomic Rights (SUNDDE).

The Decree establishes different penalties ranging between 2 and 18 years of imprisonment, or expropriation, adoption of measures as temporary occupation and/or seizure of goods. The Decree also imposes fines ranging from 200 Tax Units to 50,000 Tax Units; temporarily suspend the Single Registry of Persons that Develop Economic Activities (RUPDAE) from 3 months to 10 years; issue measures of temporary occupation with intervention of warehouses, storehouses, industries, commercial establishments, transport of goods, for up to 180 days; temporarily shut down warehouses, storehouses or establishments engaged in the commerce, preservation, storage, production, or processing of

 

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goods for up to 180 days, or closure, or confiscation of goods among other measures. The Decree also establishes penalties up to 20% of the annual net income of the infringer.

The Decree establishes that directors, partners, representatives, managers, supervisors and administrators will be jointly and severally liable (civil, criminal or administrative) with the company found in violation of the Decree.

As a consequence, we may experience a significant decrease in our Venezuelan subsidiary´s revenues, results of operations and earnings and we cannot assure you that the impact would not be material. Finally, our Venezuelan subsidiaries could generate net loss in the near future. 

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 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, including Argentina, 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 significantly 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.

During 2001 and 2002, Argentina went through a period of severe political, economic and social crisis. Among other consequences, the crisis resulted in the Argentine government defaulting on its foreign debt obligations, introducing emergency measures and numerous changes in economic policies that affected utilities and many other sectors of the economy, and suffering a significant real devaluation of the Peso, which in turn caused numerous Argentine private sector debtors with foreign currency exposure to default on their outstanding debt.

In the first half of 2005, Argentina restructured part of the sovereign debt on which it was in default; however, a number of creditors refused to approve the restructuring and litigation brought by these holdout creditors ensued. This litigation initiated by these holdout creditors has persisted to this day. On June 16, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an Argentine appeal and decided to leave in place a lower court ruling in favor of the holdout creditors, which held that the Argentine government is prohibited from making payments on its restructured debt unless it also pays the holdout creditors, who have previously refused to accept its debt restructuring offers, the amount owed to them.

In July 2014, Argentina and the holdout creditors failed to reach an agreement on the restructuring of this debt. As a result, the Argentine government was prohibited from making certain bond payments. The full consequences of this on Argentina’s political and economic landscape, and on the Company, are still unclear. We cannot provide any assurance that inflation, fluctuations in the value of the peso, the implementation of additional foreign currency restrictions and/or other future economic, social and political developments in Argentina resulting from this current Argentine sovereign debt crisis or the difficult economic conditions that current exist in Argentina, over which we have no control, will not adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations, including our ability to pay our debts at maturity or dividends.

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, Mexico and Venezuela, which together accounted for 94.6%, 93.4% and 94.4% of our net revenues for 2015, 2014 and 2013, 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,

 

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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.

We may be subject to exchange control regulations which might restrict our ability to convert local currencies into U.S. dollars. For example, in 2001 and 2002, Argentina imposed exchange controls and transfer restrictions substantially limiting the ability of companies to retain foreign currency or make payments abroad. Since 2011, the Argentine government has implemented certain measures that control and restrict the ability of companies and individuals to exchange Argentine Pesos for foreign currencies. Those measures included, among other things, the requirement to obtain the prior approval from the Argentine Tax Authority of the foreign currency transaction (for example and without limitation, for the payment of non-Argentine goods and services, payment of principal and interest on non-Argentine debt and also payment of dividends to parties outside of the country), which approval process could delay, and eventually restrict, the ability to exchange Argentine Pesos for other currencies, such as U.S. dollars. Those approvals were administered by the Argentine Central Bank through the Local Exchange Market (“Mercado Unico Libre de Cambios” or “MULC”), which was the only market where exchange transactions could be lawfully made. Further, restrictions also currently applied to the acquisition of any foreign currency for holding as cash within Argentina. On December 17, 2015 the new Argentine government introduced significant changes into the foreign exchange regulatory framework that had been in place for the past four years under former president. These new measures include the removal of Argentina’s strict currency controls that restricted the ability of companies and individuals to exchange Argentine pesos for foreign currencies. With this new policy, prior approval of foreign exchange transactions by the Argentine Administration of Public Revenues is no longer required for the purchase of foreign currency. The total amount of foreign currency purchased cannot exceed $2.0 million per month. In addition, 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. During 2015, Venezuela has modified its exchange control regulations. These modified regulations have further impaired our ability to convert local currency into U.S. dollars, see “Risk related to doing business in Latin America—Political and economic conditions in Venezuela may have an adverse impact on our operations” above.

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 (i.e. the foreign currencies devaluate against the U.S. dollar), the economic value of our revenues in U.S. dollar terms will decline.

We are subject to increased risks relating to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. 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, Mexico and Venezuela, 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 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, 2015, 44.6% of our net revenues were denominated in Brazilian Reais, 37.6% in Argentine Pesos, 6.2% in Venezuelan Bolivares Fuertes, and 6.2% in Mexican Pesos. The foreign currency exchange rates for the full year 2015 relative to 2014 resulted in lower net revenues of approximately $347.7 million and a decrease in aggregate cost of net revenues and operating expenses of approximately $335.3 million. The foreign currency exchange rates for the full year 2014 relative to 2013 resulted in lower net revenues of approximately $297.4 million and a decrease in aggregate cost of net revenues and operating expenses of approximately $234.5 million. The abovementioned foreign currency exchange rate effect includes the Venezuelan translation effect discussed in “Item 7 Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Critical accounting policies and estimates—Foreign Currency Translation”. While we have in the past entered into transactions to hedge portions of our foreign currency translation exposure, these transactions are expensive, and, in addition, it is very difficult to perfectly predict or completely eliminate the effects of this exposure. Should the U.S. dollar strengthen relative to the foreign currencies in which we operate, particularly Argentina and Venezuela, our net revenues, operating expenses, and net income will decrease and such decrease may be significant.

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 Venezuela, which was determined to be highly inflationary, and in Argentina, 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.

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

 

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The market value of companies like us 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, including Mexico in 1994, the collapse of several Asian economies between 1997 and 1998, the economic crisis in Russia in 1998, the Brazilian devaluations in January of 1999 and in 2002, the Argentine crisis of 2001 and the market decline after September 11, 2001. 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. As of December 31, 2015, eBay owned approximately 8.1 million shares of our common stock (which represents 18.4% of our outstanding common stock as of December 31, 2015). 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.

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. 

 

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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.

In addition to the issuance of the convertible notes, 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.

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

During 2015, the Company paid quarterly dividends on shares of our common stock throughout the year. Although the Company announced its intention to pay regular quarterly dividends on shares of our common stock in the future, we have not established a minimum dividend payment level and 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, our 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.

Requirements associated with being a public company require significant Company resources and management attention.

 

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As a consequence of being a public Company, we are subject to the periodic reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and the other rules and regulations of the SEC and the Nasdaq Global Market. We are also subject to various other regulatory requirements, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that we evaluate and determine the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. If we have a material weakness or significant deficiency in our internal control over financial reporting, we may not detect errors on a timely basis and our financial statements may be materially misstated. As a result, our stockholders could lose confidence in our financial reporting, which could harm the trading price of our stock.

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 judgments 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, or the Convertible Notes, in an aggregate principal amount of $330 million. At maturity, we will have to pay the holders of the Convertible Notes the full aggregate principal amount of the Convertible 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, unless we elect to deliver solely shares of our common stock to settle such conversion (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we will 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.

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, unless we elect to satisfy our conversion obligation by delivering solely shares of our common stock (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we would be required 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.

 

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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 Bogotá, Colombia; City of Buenos Aires and the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba and San Luis, Argentina; Santana do Parnaíba and Osasco, Brazil; Caracas and Valencia, Venezuela; Mexico City, Mexico; Aguada Park, Uruguay and Santiago de Chile, Chile. Currently, all of our offices are occupied under lease agreements, except for our Argentine and Venezuelan offices. 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. The following table shows the location of our offices and centers, and the expiration date of the leases under which they operate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City and Country

  

Facility

  

Address

  

Approximate Square Meters

 

 

Lease Expiration Date

Bogotá, Colombia

  

TuCarro Colombia operation

  

Transversal 23 N° 97-73, Piso 4°, Oficina 405, Bogotá D.C., Colombia

  

622 

  

 

April 2016

Medellín, Colombia

  

TuCarro Colombia operation

  

Carrera 43A No. 1 sur — 100 Oficina 1104 Medellín, Colombia

  

36 

(2) 

 

February 2016

Bogotá, Colombia

 

TuCarro Colombia and Contact Center operations

 

Calle 93 No. 17-18, Pisos 3, 4, 5 y Oficinas 601/602 Bogotá Colombia

 

2,561 

(4) 

 

October 2020

Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

Argentina operations

 

Arias 3751 pisos 5°, 6°, 7°, 8°, 9°, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

5,340 

 

 

N/A

Buenos Aires, Argentina

  

Corporate headquarters

  

Av. del Libertador 101 pisos 16°, 17°, 18°, Vicente López, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  

3,865 

  

 

N/A

Buenos Aires, Argentina

  

Customer service center

  

Av. Leandro N. Alem 518, pisos 10°, 11° y 12°, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

  

2,360 

 

 

November 2019

Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

Technology development center

 

Hipólito Yrigoyen 1528/30 pisos 7°, 8°, 10° y 12°, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

 

 

October 2016 (8 th  floor)
August 2018 (10 th  floor)
September 2018 (12 th  floor)

Córdoba, Argentina

  

Technology Development center

  

Av. La Voz del Interior 7000, Córdoba, Argentina

  

2,087.75 

(3) 

 

March 2018

San Luis, Argentina

  

Technology Development center

  

Av. Universitaria s/n, Ciudad de la Punta, San Luis, Argentina

  

842 

(2) 

 

January 2016

Santiago de Chile, Chile

  

Chile operation

  

Rosario Norte 532, Piso 2°, Las Condes
Santiago de Chile, Chile

  

850 

  

 

November 2016

Santiago de Chile, Chile

  

Chile operation

  

Avenida Apoquindo 4820, Piso 20 (1/s piso), 21 y 22, Edificio Norponiente, Torre II, Las Condes, Santiago de Chile, Chile

  

2,643 

(2) 

 

August 2018

 

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Caracas, Venezuela

  

Venezuela operation

  

Planta 6 (nivel 8) del Edificio Torre La Castellana, situado entre las Avenidas Eugenio Mendoza y José Ángel Lamas, Urbanización La Castellana, Municipio Chacao del Estado Bolivariano de Miranda, Venezuela45901 Nokes Blvd. Sterling, Virginia 20166

  

992 

  

 

N/A

Valencia, Venezuela

  

TuCarro Venezuela operation

  

Av. Cementerio, CC Cristal, Torre Cristal (Torre empresarial), piso 4, oficina 4-7, Valencia, Edo. Carabobo, Venezuela

  

73 

 

 

N/A

Caracas, Venezuela

  

Property on operating lease

  

Planta Oficina Nivel Doce (12) del Edificio Bancaracas, situado entre las Avenidas Principal de la Urbanización La Castellana, Avenida San Felipe y Segunda Transversal de la citada urbanización, Municipio Chacao del Estado Bolivariano de Miranda, Venezuela

  

944 

 

 

N/A

Caracas, Venezuela

 

Property under construction

 

Av. Blandín, Centro San Ignacio, oficinas TO-P3-03, TO-P3-04, TO-P7-06, TO-P7-09, TO-P8-01, TO-P8-02, TO-P8-03, TO-P8-04, TO-P8-05, TO-P8-06, TO-P8-09 y TO-P8-10, ubicadas en los pisos tres (03) siete (07) y ocho (08) de la Torre Copérnico, Urbanización La Castellana, Municipio Chacao del Estado Bolivariano de Miranda, Venezuela

 

1,677 

 

 

N/A

Caracas, Venezuela

  

Property under construction

  

Oficinas 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4 y 4-5, ubicadas en la Planta Piso Cuarta (4ta) del “Centro Comercial Recreo La Castellana”, ubicado en la Manzana “B” de la Urbanización Bello Campo, entre la Avenida Principal de Bello Campo y la Avenida Francisco de Miranda, Municipio Chacao del Estado Miranda, Distrito Capital, Caracas

  

1,233 

  

 

N/A

Lithia Springs, Georgia, U.S.A.

  

SAVVIS Data Center

  

375 Riverside Parkway Suit 150,Lithia Springs, Georgia, 30122.

  

62 

  

 

December 2016

Mexico City, Mexico

  

Mexico operation

  

Insurgentes Sur No. 1602, 9 thFloor, Int. 901 Col, Crédito Constructor, Delegación Benito Juarez, CP 03940, Mexico DF., Mexico

  

4,228 

  

 

June 2019

Sterling, Virginia, U.S.A.

  

SAVVIS Data Center

  

45901 Nokes Blvd., Sterling, Virginia, 20166

  

253 

  

 

December 2016

Santana do Parnaíba, Brazil

  

Brazilian Subsidiary main office — Customer service center

  

Avenida Marte, 489 — Andar Térreo, 1°, 2° andar — Partes A e B Cep 06541-005 — Santana de Parnaíba, São Paulo, Brazil

  

4,090 

(1) 

 

July 2018

Osasco, Brazil

  

Brazilian Subsidiary main office — Customer service center

  

Avenida Nações   Unidas, 3000
Osasco, São Paulo,
Brazil

  

33,308 

(5)

 

July 2035

Sterling, Virginia, U.S.A.

  

SAVVIS Data Center

  

21110 Ridgetop Circle, Sterling, Virginia, 20166

  

193 

 

 

December 2016

Aguada Park, Uruguay

  

Uruguay operation. Customer service center

  

Edificio1, Zona Franca, Pisos 3, (1/2 piso), 19 y 20, Oficinas 301, 1901 y 2001, Aguada Park, Montevideo, Uruguay

  

2,296 

 

 

October 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) This surface includes the area of the office leased and parking spaces.

(2) This surface corresponds to the area of the office leased and it does not include any parking spaces.

(3) This surface includes exclusive and common areas.

 

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(4) This surface includes the area of the office leased and exclusive and common areas.

 

 

(5) This surface corresponds to the Brazilian offices in process of construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 3.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

From time to time, we are involved in disputes that arise in the ordinary course of our business. The number and significance of these disputes is increasing as our business expands and our company grows. Any claims against us, whether meritorious or not, may be time consuming, result in costly litigation, require significant amounts of management time, result in the diversion of significant operational resources and require expensive implementations of changes to our business methods to respond to these claims. See “Item 1A—Risk Factors” for additional discussion of the litigation and regulatory risks facing our company.

As of December 31, 2015, our total reserves for proceeding-related contingencies were $4.4 million to cover legal actions against the Company where we have determined that a loss is probable. We do not reserve for losses we determine to be possible or remote. Expected legal costs related to litigations are accrued when the legal service is actually provided.

As of December 31, 2015, there were 47 lawsuits pending against the Argentine subsidiary in the Argentine ordinary courts and 1.050 pending claims in the Argentine Consumer Protection Agencies, where a lawyer is not required to file or pursue a claim.

As of December 31, 2015, there were two claims pending against the Mexican subsidiaries in the Mexican ordinary courts and 82 claims pending against our Mexican subsidiary in the Mexican Consumer Protection Agencies, where a lawyer is not required to file or pursue a claim.

As of December 31, 2015, there were 612 lawsuits pending against our Brazilian subsidiaries in the Brazilian ordinary courts. In addition, as of December 31, 2015, there were 1,871 lawsuits pending against our Brazilian subsidiaries in the Brazilian consumer courts, where a lawyer is not required to file or pursue a claim.

In most of these cases, the plaintiffs asserted that we were responsible for fraud committed against them, or responsible for damages suffered when purchasing an item on our website, when using MercadoPago, or when we invoiced them. We believe we have meritorious defenses to these claims and intend to continue defending them.

Set forth below is a description of the legal proceedings that we have determined to be material to our business. We have excluded ordinary routine legal proceedings incidental to our business. In each of these proceedings we also believe we have meritorious defenses, and intend to continue defending these actions. We have established a reserve for those proceedings which we have considered that a loss is probable.

Litigation

On February 22, 2008, Nike International Ltd., (or “Nike”), requested a preliminary injunction against our Argentine subsidiary DeRemate.com de Argentina S.A. (or “DeRemate”), in the Federal Court on Civil and Commercial Matters in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nike alleged that this subsidiary was infringing Nike trademarks as a result of sellers listing allegedly counterfeited Nike branded products through the website www.deremate.com.ar. A preliminary injunction was granted in February 2008 to suspend the offer of Nike-branded products until sellers could be properly identified. DeRemate appealed the decision. In November 2008, the Federal Court of Appeals on Civil and Commercial Matters lifted the prohibition to allow on the website of DeRemate any listing related to Nike branded products subject to our requesting certain personal information from users listing those items. On March 25, 2008 Nike sued DeRemate in the same venue, for the same reasons argued in the request preliminary injunction. DeRemate presented its defense on September 11, 2009. On May 27, 2014, the Lower Court Judge issued a ruling considering that DeRemate was not liable for the alleged infringement by sellers’ listings, but it considered that DeRemate was liable for the breach of contract entered into by the parties which established a “notice and take down” procedure. On June 6, 2014, DeRemate filed an appeal that was denied on May 5, 2015 by the Federal Court of Appeals on Civil and Commercial Matters. The Federal Court decided, among other things, that DeRemate shall (i) pay to plaintiff AR$200,000 for damages and (ii) restrain from buying keywords related with plaintiff´s trademarks. In May 2015 DeRemate filed recourse and an appeal to the Supreme Court under the same Federal Court. As of the date of this report, the Federal Court’s decision was still pending. The opinion of our management, based on the external legal counsel opinion of DeRemate, is that the risk of loss in this case is probable as of the date of this report.

On August 25, 2010, Citizen Watch do Brasil S/A, or Citizen, sued Brazilian subsidiaries in the 31st Central Civil Court State of São Paulo, Brazil. Citizen alleged that the Brazilian subsidiaries were infringing Citizen’s trademarks as a result of users selling allegedly counterfeit Citizen watches through the Brazilian page of the Brazilian subsidiaries’ website. Citizen sought an order enjoining the sale of Citizen-branded watches on the Brazilian subsidiaries’ Marketplace with a $6,000 daily non-compliance penalty. On September 23, 2010, the Brazilian subsidiaries were summoned of an injunction granted to prohibit the offer of Citizen products on its platform, but the penalty was established at $6,000 per day.

 

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On September 26, 2010, the Brazilian subsidiaries presented their defense and appealed the decision of the injunction relief to the State Court of Appeals of São Paulo on September 27, 2010. On October 22, 2010 the injunction granted to Citizen was suspended. On March 23, 2011, the Company’s appeal regarding the injunction granted to Citizen was ruled in favor of the Brazilian subsidiaries. On May 4, 2011, Citizen presented a motion to clarify the decision but it was dismissed on March 14, 2012. On May 28, 2012, the Plaintiff filed a special recourse related to the injunction relief to the State Court of Appeals, and the Brazilian subsidiaries presented their defense on August 16, 2012 which was not admitted. In September 2012, the Plaintiff filed a legal action against the Brazilian subsidiaries with same arguments alleged in the injunction request and seeking for compensatory and statutory damages and defenses were presented on March 20, 2013. On January 9, 2013, Citizen presented a motion to request the appeal to be ruled by the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (Superior Tribunal de Justiça). On March 1, 2013, the Brazilian subsidiaries presented their response to that appeal. On August 27, 2013, the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice ruled against Citizen’s appeal. The Superior Court of Justice ruled that the Brazilian subsidiaries were not responsible for alleged infringement of intellectual property rights by its users and that they should comply with the “notice and take down” procedure it already have in place.

On October 4, 2013, Citizen presented a motion to clarify mentioned decision issued by the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice and such motion was denied on November 11, 2013. Citizen then filed, on November 25, 2013, an Extraordinary Appeal aiming the decision rendered by Brazilian Superior Court of Justice to be reviewed by Brazilian Federal Supreme Court. On February 21, 2014, Brazilian subsidiaries presented its response to Citizen’s Extraordinary Appeal. On March 10, 2014, Citizen’s extraordinary appeal was not accepted by the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice and, on March 26, 2014, Citizen filed an appeal against such decision, aiming at its Extraordinary Appeal to be accepted and ruled by Brazilian Federal Supreme Court. On May 5, 2014 the Company presented its response to Citizen’s appeal to The Brazilian Federal Supreme Court. On December, 19, 2014 Brazilian Federal Supreme Court overruled Citizen’s Extraordinary Appeal, ending the discussion regarding the injunction sought by Citizen which was definitely not granted. On February 19, 2015 the judge preceding the 31st Central Civil Court of the City of São Paulo, State of São Paulo, Brazil ruled the case in its merits totally in favor of the Brazilian subsidiary, stating that MercadoLivre shall not be held responsible for any of Citizen’s pleas and allegations and Citizen did not appeal the mentioned decision and, as a consequence, the case is closed. On the merits of the injunction is still pending. The opinion of our management, based on the external legal counsel opinion, is that the risk of loss is therefore remote.

On June 12, 2007, a state prosecutor of the State of São Paulo, Brazil presented a claim against MercadoLivre. The state prosecutor alleges that MercadoLivre should be held liable for any fraud committed by sellers on MercadoLivre’s website, or responsible for damages suffered by buyers when purchasing an item on the Brazilian version of the MercadoLivre website. On June 26, 2009, the Lower Court Judge ruled in favor of the State of São Paulo prosecutor, declaring that MercadoLivre shall be held joint and severally liable for fraud committed by sellers and damages suffered by buyers when using the website, and ordering MercadoLivre remove from the Terms of Service of the Brazilian website any provision limiting MercadoLivre’s responsibility, with a penalty of approximately $2,500 per day of non-compliance. On June 29, 2009, the Company presented recourse to the lower court, which was not granted. On September 29, 2009, MercadoLivre presented an appeal and requested to suspend the effects of the ruling issued by the lower court until the appeal is decided by State Court of Appeals, which request was granted on December 1, 2009. On May 23, 2014 the State Court of Appeals issued its ruling stating that MercadoLivre shall not be held responsible for the quality, nature or defective products or services purchased through the Brazilian website. While the decision is not clear, it could be understood that the State Court of Appeals ruled that MercadoLivre could be held joint and severally liable for fraud committed by sellers/buyers when using the website. On June 13, 2014, MercadoLivre filed a motion to clarify the decision. On October 6, 2014, the State Court of Appeals overruled MercadoLivre’s motion to clarify its decision. We appealed the decision to the Brazilian Federal Superior Court of Justice. As of the date of this report we appeal to the Brazilian Federal Superior Court of Justice was still being processed before the State Court of Appeals. On March 23, 2015 the State of São Paulo Prosecutor and MercadoLivre have settled the case by agreeing that MercadoLivre (i) will not be held liable for the quality, nature or defective products or services purchased through the Brazilian website, and/or damages suffered by buyers for purchases made using the website and paid directly to sellers, and (ii) will be jointly liable when buyer used MercadoPago in a purchase made through the website and liable for MercadoLivre’s own services. On July 15, 2015, the settlement was homologated and therefore the case is closed as of the date of this report.

On August 19, 2011, a state prosecutor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil presented a claim against our Brazilian subsidiary. The state prosecutor alleges that the Brazilian subsidiary should improve our customer service level and provide (among other things) a telephone number for customer support and requested an injunction against our Brazilian subsidiary. On October 22, 2012, a lower court judge ruled in favor of the Company and dismissed the claim against us. The Public Prosecutor appealed the decision and MercadoLivre presented its defense on December 12, 2012. On April 9, 2013, the State Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Company confirming the dismissal of the claim. On May 28, 2013 the decision was appealed by the state prosecutor to the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice and we presented our response on July 2, 2013. On May 5, 2015 the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice did not accept the extraordinary appeal filed by the Public Prosecutor. The Public Prosecutor filed an appeal against such decision, aiming the appeal to be accepted and ruled by Brazilian Federal Supreme Court, which was not accepted on June 16, 2015. The state prosecutor filed the last appeal, which awaits trial. The opinion of our management, based on the external legal counsel opinion, is that the risk of loss is remote.

In 2007 São Paulo tax authorities have asserted taxes and fines against our Brazilian subsidiary relating to the period from 2005 to 2007 in an approximate amount of $5.9 million according to the exchange rate in effect at that time. In 2007, the Company presented administrative defenses against the authorities’ claim and the tax authorities ruled against the Brazilian subsidiary. In 2009, the Company presented an appeal to the Conselho Municipal de Tributos or São Paulo Municipal Council of Taxes which reduced the fine. On February 11, 2011, the Company appealed this decision to the Câmaras Reunidas do Egrégio Conselho Municipal de Tributos or Superior Chamber of the São Paulo Municipal Council of Taxes which affirmed the reduction of the fine. As of the date of this report, the total amount of the claim is approximately $3.3 

 

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million including surcharges and interest. With this decision the administrative stage is finished. On August 15, 2011, the Company made a deposit in court of R$ 9.5 million, which including accrued interests amounted to R$ 12.7 million or $3.3 million, according to the exchange rate at December 31, 2015, and filed a lawsuit in 8th Public Treasury Court of the County of São Paulo, State of São Paulo, Brazil, to contest the taxes and fines asserted by the Tax Authorities. As of December 31, 2015, the 8th Public Treasury Court of the County of São Paulo ruling was still pending. The opinion of our management, based on the external legal counsel opinion, is that the risk of loss is remote.

In September 2012 São Paulo tax authorities have asserted taxes and fines against our Brazilian subsidiary related to our Brazilian subsidiary’s activities in São Paulo for the period from 2007 through 2010. On July 27, 2012, the Company presented administrative defenses against the authorities’ claim. On February 2, 2013, São Paulo tax authorities ruled against the Brazilian subsidiary maintaining claimed taxes and fines. On March 4, 2013, the Company presented an appeal to the Conselho Municipal de Tributos or São Paulo Municipal Council of Taxes. On August 23, 2013, the Câmaras Reunidas do Egrégio Conselho Municipal de Tributos or Superior Chamber of the São Paulo Municipal Council of Taxes ruled against the Company’s appeal. On September 5, 2013, the Company presented a special appeal to the Superior Chamber of the São Paulo Municipal Council of Taxes. On October 18, 2013, the mentioned appeal was denied to our Brazilian subsidiary and confirmed the fines. With this decision the administrative stage is finished. On November 13, 2013, the Company filed a lawsuit before the 9th Treasury Court of the City of São Paulo, State of São Paulo, Brazil, to contest the taxes and fines asserted by the Tax Authorities. On November 14, 2013, the Company made a deposit in court related to the lawsuit filed, of R$47.5 million or $12.1 million, according to the exchange rate at December 31, 2015. On January 28, 2014 São Paulo Municipal Council was summoned and on April 8, 2014 the São Paulo Municipal Council presented its defense. On April 24, 2014 we presented our response to the mentioned defense. As of December 31, 2015, the lower court’s ruling was still pending.

In January 2005 the Brazilian subsidiary moved its operations to Santana de Parnaíba City, Brazil and began paying taxes to that jurisdiction and therefore the Company believes that has strong defenses to the claims of the São Paulo authorities with respect to these periods for both tax claims. The Company’s management based on the external legal counsel opinion, believe that the risk of loss is remote for the both claims, and as a result, has not reserved any provisions for these claims. The collection date of the legal deposits cannot be determined since it will depend on the actual duration of the related legal proceedings.

On September 2, 2011, the Brazilian Federal tax authority has asserted taxes and fines against our Brazilian subsidiary relating to the income tax for the 2006 period in an approximate amount of R$5.2 million or $1.3 million, according to the exchange rate at December 31, 2015. On September 30, 2011, the Company presented administrative defenses against the authorities’ claim. On August 24, 2012, the Company presented its appeal to the Board of Tax Appeals (CARF—Conselho Administrativo de Recursos Fiscais) against the tax authorities’ claims. On December 5, 2013, the Board of Tax Appeals ruled against MercadoLivre’s appeal. The same Board of Tax Appeals recognized as due part of the tax compensation made by the Company, decreasing the outstanding debit to R$1,7 million or $445 thousands according to the exchange rate at December 31, 2015. On November 21, 2014, the Company appealed to the Superior Administrative Court of Tax Appeals. As of the date of this report the Superior Administrative Court of Tax Appeals ruling was still pending. Our management based on the external legal counsel opinion, believe that the tax position adopted is more likely than not, based on the technical merits of the tax position, that it will be sustained, and as a result, we have not recorded any liability for this claim.

On June 11, 2007, Praetorium – Instituto de Ensino, Pesquisa e Atividades de Extensão e Direito Ltda. filed a suit against the Company before the 4th Civil Court of the City Central Civil Court State of Belo Horizonte claiming for moral and material damages due to copyright, intellectual and property rights infringement by unauthorized commercialization of its courses on the Company’s platform as well as requesting a preliminary injunction. On July 4, 2007 the injunction was granted. The Company filed an appeal against the injunction decision and on January 1st, 2008 it was granted the suspension of its effects until the appeals trial. On July 7, 2012 the judge ruled the case in its merits in favor of Praetorium, imposing to the Company: (i) R$ 10,000 as punitive damages; (ii) fine of R$ 300,000 due to violation of the injunction order, and (iii) damages based on an intellectual property breach to be determined by arbitration, based on the value of 3,000 copies of the courses offered by Praetorium, at their average market price. The Court decision, however, was limited to R$ 10,000. Both parties appealed the decision and on April 15, 2013 both appeals were partially accepted, dismissing punitive damages but with no limitation to R$ 10,000.  Praetorium enforced the execution of the fine and damages and on December 1, 2015 the court expert estimated the value of material damages in R$4.8 million or $1.2 million according to the exchange rate on December 31, 2015. On January 21, 2016, the Company formally challenged the amount determined by the expert, and also presented an opinion of its technical assistant. The Company awaits the judge's decision. The opinion of our management, based on the external legal counsel opinion, is that the risk of losing the case is probable.

On November 6, 2014 our Brazilian subsidiaries requested a preliminary injunction against Receita Federal Do Brasil in order to avoid the income tax withholding over payments remitted by our Brazilian subsidiaries to the our Argentine subsidiary for the provision of IT support and assistance services; and requested the reimbursement of the amounts improperly withheld in the last five years. The injunction was granted considering that such withholding violates the provisions of the convention signed between the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Argentine Republic to prevent double taxation. In August 2015, such injunction was revoked by the first instance judge decision of merit, which was favorable to Receita Federal Do Brasil. We presented an appeal in September, 2015 and as of December 31, 2015, we are waiting for the second instance decision. As a result, we started making deposits in court for the controversial amounts. As of December 31, 2015, we recorded in the balance sheet deposits in court for R$6.3 million or $1.6 million, according to the exchange rate at December 31, 2015 under the caption non-current other assets. Our management, based on the external legal counsel opinion, believe that the tax position adopted is more likely than not, based on the technical merits of the tax position and the existence of favorable decisions of the Federal Regional Courts. For that reason, we have not recorded any expense or liability for the controversial amounts.

 

37


 

On August 23, 2012, the tax authority of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina has asserted taxes and fines against MercadoLibre, relating to the Sales Tax for the period 2007-2011 in an approximate amount of AR$3.4 million or $0.4 million, according to the exchange rate as of December 31, 2015. On September 13, 2011 the Company presented administrative recourses against the tax authorities’ claim. On October 29, 2013, the tax authority of the City of Buenos Aires confirmed the taxes and fines claimed against MercadoLibre, condemning it to pay the sum of AR$3.4 (or $0.3 million according to the exchange rate as of December 31, 2015) in concept of owed taxes and the sum of AR$2.3 (or $0.2 million according to the exchange rate as of December 31, 2015) in concept of fines plus interest. On November 28, 2013, MercadoLibre appealed the decision of the tax authority of the City of Buenos Aires by filing a motion of reconsideration. In the same time filed another motion to the Arbitral Committee of the Multilateral Convention to dismiss the decision of the tax authority of the City of Buenos Aires. On December 19, 2014 the tax authority of the City of Buenos Aires denied the administrative appeal (motion of reconsideration). On February 12, 2015 MercadoLibre appealed that decision by filing a new administrative appeal (hierarchical appeal). In relation to the motion filed to the Arbitral Committee of the Multilateral Convention on February 2, 2015, the Arbitral Committee decided reject the motion confirming the decision of the tax authority of the City of Buenos Aires. On April 23, 2015, MercadoLibre appealed the decision to the Plenary Committee of the Multilateral Convention. On November 25, 2015, MercadoLibre obtained a (non-binding) ruling from the Plenary Committee of the Multilateral Convention against the City of Buenos Aires through which decided to admit the motion filed by MercadoLibre. As of the date of this report the hierarchical appeal filed to the General Director of the tax authority of Buenos Aires is still pending. The Company´s management, based on the external legal counsel opinion, believe that the risk of loss is possible but not probable, and as a result, we have not reserved any provisions for this claim.

On September 29, 2014, the Argentina Commercial Labor Union “Federación Argentina de Empleados de Comercio y Servicios” (“Sindicato de Comercio” or the “Plaintiff”) filed a lawsuit against our Argentine subsidiary, MercadoLibre S.R.L. (“MercadoLibre” or the “Company”), in the First Instance National Court on Labor Matters Number Fifty Eight of Buenos Aires, Argentina (the “Court”). The Plaintiff seeks the payment of allegedly unpaid monthly obligations due for employees for the last 10 years, for AR$ 3.2 million or $0.2 million plus interests and legal expenses. On August 12, 2015 the Company has settled the case in the amount of ARS 2.4 million plus interest and legal expenses. As a consequence, as of December 31, 2015, this case is closed.

On November 20, 2013, a state prosecutor of the County of Porto Alegre, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, presented a claim against our Brazilian subsidiary before the 15th Civil Court of Porto Alegre, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The state prosecutor alleged that MercadoLivre should be held liable for any offer or sale of any unlawful products or services through its website. A preliminary injunction was granted on November 25, 2013 ordering the Brazilian subsidiary to monitor and prevent any offer of unlawful products or services. On January 22, 2014, the Brazilian subsidiary was summoned. On March 11, 2014, the Company presented its defense. On March 24, 2014, the Company filed an appeal against the preliminary injunction before the State Court of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and on March 26, 2014 it was granted a motion to stay, revoking temporarily the effects of the injunction until the final ruling of the Interlocutory Appeal. On October 16, 2014, the State Court of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, ruled the Interlocutory Appeal in favor of the Brazilian subsidiary, revoking definitely the injunction. As of the date of this report the case merits’ ruling by the 15th Civil Court of Porto Alegre was still pending. The opinion of our management, based on the external legal counsel opinion, is that the risk of losing the case is reasonably possible, but not probable.

On June 13, 2014, the consumer association called “Consumidores Financieros Asociación Civil Para Su Defensa” (“Consumidores Financieros”) filed a class action against the Company’s Argentine subsidiary, MercadoLibre S.R.L. (“MercadoLibre”), in the First Instance National Court on Commercial Matters Number Four of Buenos Aires, Argentina (the “Court”). Consumidores Financieros acts on behalf of customers who have used MercadoPago in Argentina and claims that MercadoLibre has infringed certain consumer provisions of the Consumer Protection Law, mostly related to certain information to be provided to consumers in relation to the transactions performed through MercadoPago by users holding credit cards that are not associated to MercadoLibre’s promotions, and charged them excessive interest rates when users paid by installments. Consumidores Financieros seeks that (i) MercadoLibre provides clear and complete information about the costs of its service MercadoPago in Argentina, (ii) MercadoLibre reimburse users who have used MercadoPago in the last 10 years, an amount equivalent to the difference between the interest rate actually charged by MercadoLibre for the users that pay through MercadoPago by installments and the interest rate set down by the section 36 of the CPA in cases of violation of the duty of information as per section 36 (average annual rate set down by the Argentine Central Bank, which is 26.31% as of the date of this report), (iii) the Court establish the interest rate to be charged in future transactions where users pay by installments, estimate by Consumidores Financieros in twice the interest rate charged by the Banco de la Nación Argentina in commercial transactions (as of the date of this report the doubled interest rate is estimated at 50%), and (iv) condemn MercadoLibre to pay punitive damages on the amount of AR$500 per each transaction performed in alleged violation to section 36 of the CPA. The Company filed its defense on October 3, 2014. On April 17, 2015, the court decided to begin with the evidence stage, and ordered the production of the parties´evidence. As of the date of this report the opinion of our management, based on the external legal counsel opinion, is that the risk of MercadoLibre losing the case is remote.

Intellectual Property Claims

In the past third parties have from time to time claimed, and others may claim in the future, that we have infringed their intellectual property rights. We have been notified of several potential third-party claims for intellectual property infringement through our website. These claims, whether meritorious or not, are time consuming, can be costly to resolve, could cause service upgrade delays, and could require expensive implementations of changes to our business methods to respond to these claims. See “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”.

 

38


 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 4.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

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 Market (“NASDAQ”) under the symbol “MELI.” As of December 31, 2015, the closing price of our common stock was $114.34 per share. As of February 22, 2016, we had approximately 20 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 Market:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High

 

Low

2014

 

 

 

 

 

1st quarter

$

112.88 

 

$

87.88 

2nd quarter

$

99.00 

 

$

79.52 

3rd quarter

$

118.90 

 

$

86.25 

4th quarter

$

144.23 

 

$

102.44 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015

 

 

 

 

 

1st quarter

$

137.99 

 

$

116.72 

2nd quarter

$

153.42 

 

$

121.60 

3rd quarter

$

143.12 

 

$

85.75 

4th quarter

$

127.77 

 

$

88.19 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

There were no sales of unregistered securities by us during the three-month period ending December 31, 2015.

Dividend Policy

In each of February, April, July and October of 2013, our Board of Directors declared quarterly cash dividends of $6.3 million (or $0.143 per share on our outstanding shares of common stock). The dividends were paid on April 15, July 15, October 15, 2013 and January 15, 2014 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on March 29, June 28, September 30, and December 31, 2013.

In each of February, April, July and October of 2014, our Board of Directors declared quarterly cash dividends of $7.3 million (or $0.166 per share on our outstanding shares of common stock). The dividends were paid on April 15, July 15, October 15, 2014 and January 15, 2015 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on March 29, June 30, September 30, and December 31, 2014.

In each of February, April, July and October of 2015, our Board of Directors declared quarterly cash dividends of $4.5 million (or $0.103 per share on our outstanding shares of common stock). The dividends were paid on April 15, July 15, October 15, 2015 and January 15, 2016 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31, 2015.

On February 19, 2016, our board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $6.6 million (or $0.150 per share on our outstanding shares of common stock). The dividend is payable on April 15, 2016 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on March 31, 2016.

We currently expect to continue paying comparable cash dividends on a quarterly basis. However, any future determination as to the declaration of dividends on our common stock will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our earnings, operating and financial condition, capital requirements and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors, including the applicable requirements of the Delaware General Corporation Law.

Equity Compensation Plan Information

 

39


 

Information regarding securities authorized for issuance under the Company’s equity compensation plan as of December 31, 2015 is set forth in “Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholders Matters.”

 

Performance Graph

The graph below shows the total stockholder return of an investment of $100 on December 31, 2007 through December 31, 2015 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.

 

 

40


 

 

 

 

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 consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Ended December, 31

(in millions)

2015 (*)

2014 (*)

2013 (*)

2012 (*)

2011 (*)

Statement of income data:

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenues

$   651.8 

$      556.5 

$      472.6 

$     373.6 

$    298.9 

Cost of net revenues

(215.0) (159.0) (130.1) (98.1) (72.1)

Gross profit

436.8  397.6  342.5  275.5  226.9 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

Product and technology development

(76.4) (53.6) (40.9) (28.6) (23.3)

Sales and marketing

(128.6) (111.6) (90.5) (72.0) (65.0)

General and administrative

(76.3) (62.4) (57.6) (45.2) (38.8)

Impairment of Long-Lived Assets

(16.2) (49.5)

 —

 —

 —

Total operating expenses

(297.6) (277.1) (189.0) (145.9) (127.1)

Income from operations

139.2  120.5  153.5  129.6  99.8 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other income (expenses):

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income and other financial gains

20.6  15.3  10.7  11.9  9.9 

Interest expense and other financial charges

(20.4) (11.7) (2.4) (1.1) (3.6)

Foreign currency gain / (loss)

11.1  (2.4) 1.3  0.0  2.4 

Other income / (expenses), net

 —

 —

 —

(0.2) 0.1 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net income before income / asset tax

150.5  121.8  163.1  140.2  108.5 

Income / asset tax (expense)

(44.7) (49.1) (45.6) (38.9) (31.7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net income

105.8  72.7  117.5  101.3  76.8 

Less: Net Income attributable to Noncontrolling

 

0.1 

 —

0.1 

 —

Net income available to common shareholders

$   105.8 

$        72.6 

$117.5 

$     101.2 

$      76.8 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

At December 31,

(in millions, except for per share data)

2015

2014

  

2013

  

2012

  

2011

Balance sheet data:

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

Total assets

$

1,003.6 

$

966.8 

  

$

592.4 

  

$

478.7 

  

$

355.9 

Long term debt

 

294.3 

 

282.2 

  

 

2.5 

  

 

0.1 

  

 

0.1 

Total liabilities

 

664.1 

 

611.1 

  

 

244.9 

  

 

184.9 

  

 

132.8 

Net assets

 

339.5 

 

355.8 

  

 

347.5 

  

 

293.8 

  

 

223.1 

Redeemable Noncontrolling Interest

 

 —

 

 —

  

 

4.0 

  

 

4.0 

  

 

4.0 

Common stock

 

0.1 

 

0.1 

  

 

0.1 

  

 

0.1 

  

 

0.1 

Equity

 

339.5 

 

355.8 

  

 

343.5 

  

 

289.8 

  

 

219.2 

Cash dividend declared per common share

$

0.412 

$

0.664 

  

$

0.572 

  

$

0.436 

  

$

0.320 

 

 

41


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Year Ended December 31,

 

  

2015

  

2014

  

2013

  

2012

  

2011

Earnings per share data:

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

Basic net income available to common stockholders
per common share

  

$

2.40 

  

$

1.63 

  

$

2.66 

  

$

2.30 

  

$

1.73 

Diluted net income per common share

  

$

2.40 

  

$

1.63 

  

$

2.66 

  

$

2.30 

  

$

1.73 

Weighted average shares(1):

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

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