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Alibaba takes on Amazon and eBay with U.S. e-commerce website

(Reuters) - Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd unveiled its first direct-to-consumer online shop in the United States on Wednesday, looking to take on Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc on their home turf.

The website, 11main.com, which is currently in beta, will feature a wide range of products, including "one-of-a-kind items, not available at mass merchants and other large e-commerce sites," Alibaba said.

The website displayed an "opening soon" message early on Wednesday. "Our shop owners are currently unpacking and getting settled," the site said.

The invitation-only marketplace, which Alibaba said would be "inspired by the local Main Street shopping experience," will offer products in a variety of categories such as fashion and style, home and outdoor, and jewelry and watches.

The announcement comes as Alibaba prepares for a U.S. initial public offering that is expected to raise more than $15 billion - the most since Facebook's IPO in 2012.

The company, founded by Jack Ma, controls 80 percent of all online retail in China, handling about $250 billion in 2013 - more than Amazon and eBay Inc combined.

Reuters reported in February that Alibaba was set to launch a U.S. e-commerce website.

(Reporting by Supriya Kurane, Ankush Sharma and Aurindom Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr)

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