Tianqi toothpaste, a household name in China, was listed for auction on shopping portal Taobao at a starting price of $23.6 million

Shanghai (AFP) - A toothpaste company has been put up for auction on e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Taobao, an immensely popular shopping portal in China which sells everything from mundane household items to jumbo jets.

Tianqi toothpaste, a household name in China, and its manufacturer Guangxi Aoqili were listed for auction on Tuesday at a starting price of 163.24 million yuan ($23.6 million).

The package on offer included 57 trademarks related to Tianqi, industrial real estate and production equipment, according to the auction notice, which did not explain why the company was being sold or why Taobao was chosen for the transaction.

The company went unsold in the first round, after only two buyers signed up. The auction terms require the successful bidder to resume production of Tianqi a month after the sale.

Tianqi was most popular in the early 2000s, but has since faded away with competitors chomping away at its market share.

The auction notice on Wednesday did not say if the sale would be attempted again.

Taobao is estimated to hold a huge chunk of the consumer-to-consumer market in China, and handles billions of dollars in transactions for everything from jewellery and company shares to helicopters – and even bottled flatulence.

Among its users are courts trying to auction assets of bankrupt businesses, including the 2017 sale of a defunct cargo company’s 747 freight planes.

The platform started its judicial sales platform in 2012, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency, and most courts have registered with it, saving buyers billions – Taobao says it does not charge commission fees.