Vancouver-based Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (NYSE and TSX: RBA), the world’s largest industrial auctioneer, sold $3.5 billion of equipment at 327 unreserved auctions around the world in 2009, including a record nearly $830 million of equipment sold to online bidders. Ritchie Bros. set many other new company records in 2009, including total bidder registrations and number of lots sold.

Ritchie Bros. (www.rbauction.com) conducted its final unreserved auctions of 2009 in mid-December, including a $34 million auction in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates that set a new site record for bidder registrations. The company plans to release its full audited financial statements and management’s discussion and analysis for 2009 on March 4, 2010. All dollar amounts in this release are stated in United States dollars, unless otherwise indicated.

“This year also presented challenges for our customers and for our company,” said Ritchie Bros. CEO Peter Blake. “We sold significantly more lots in 2009 than 2008, but that was not enough to offset declines in average auction values compared to 2008, particularly in the first half of the year, or significant shifts in the mix of equipment sold at our auctions. The ongoing reluctance of U.S. equipment owners to sell their larger, more expensive items in this climate continued to impact our gross auction proceeds in the second half of the year, and we started to see a similar situation develop in Europe in the fourth quarter. We expected to see more equipment coming to market in the U.S. and Europe in the fourth quarter, but unfortunately people are still waiting for more certainty in the market before they decide to sell. However, our recent auction values have been encouraging and we remain optimistic heading into 2010.”

Ritchie Bros. introduced an enhanced version of its real-time Internet bidding software in 2009, making it easier for customers to bid in auctions taking place at the same time. Since first launching its online bidding service in 2002, Ritchie Bros. has sold nearly $3.3 billion of equipment to online bidders. In 2009 alone, Ritchie Bros. sold nearly $830 million of equipment to online bidders, an 18 percent increase over 2008.

Ritchie Bros. set regional gross auction proceeds records at 11 of its 39 auction sites around the world in 2009. During the year, Ritchie Bros. also conducted its first auctions in India and Turkey, its second auction in Poland and its first auction in Central America since 1998 (in Panama).

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