Vancouver, British Columbia-based Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers last week announced the conclusion of its 2006 auction calendar with a preliminary estimate of $2.7 billion in gross auction sales for the year, a 30-percent increase compared to last year's result. The company said it plans to release its audited financial statements for the year on Feb. 22, 2007.

In 2006, Ritchie Bros. conducted 177 unreserved industrial auctions in 13 countries throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. A record of more than 241,000 bidders registered for Ritchie Bros.' unreserved industrial auctions in 2006, of which approximately 74,000 were successful buyers. In 2005, the company recorded more than 213,000 bidder registrations, of which more than 62,000 were buyers.

The average Ritchie Bros. industrial auction in 2006 featured more than 1,350 lots consigned by about 180 consignors, and attracted more than 1,360 bidders. The average gross auction sales per industrial auction for the year were more than $14 million.

The company's rbauctionBid-Live Internet bidding service also set records in 2006. The service allows qualified bidders to participate over the Internet in live Ritchie Bros. unreserved auctions around the world. More than 9,660 customers from 76 countries purchased $446 million worth of trucks, equipment and real estate this year using rbauctionBid-Live. This is an increase of more than 57 percent over last year's online gross auction sales. More than 57,000 customers from 150 countries have now registered and received approval to use rbauctionBid-Live to date. Internet bidders represented on average approximately 24 percent of the total registered bidders at Ritchie Bros. industrial auctions in 2006, and they were the buyer or runner up bidder on 24 percent of the lots offered online at these auctions.

A number of Ritchie Bros. permanent auction sites achieved gross auction sales records in 2006, including Orlando, Fla., which held the largest auction ever held by the company in more than 40 years of business, generating gross auction sales of more than $113 million.

Other gross auction sales records were set in the United States at the company's permanent auction sites in Minneapolis; North East, Md.; Atlanta; Sacramento, Calif.; Phoenix; Los Angeles; and Houston.

Ritchie Bros. also held a Canadian record-breaking auction this year. On October 26 and 27, the company's Edmonton unreserved auction generated gross auction sales in excess of CA $52 million (about U.S. $45.2 million).

In Canada, other gross auction sales records were broken at the company's permanent auction sites in: Edmonton, Alberta; Montreal, Quebec; and Prince George and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Internationally, there were a number of auction sites that generated their own record-breaking sales in 2006, including: Sagunto, Spain; Livorno, Italy; Melbourne, Australia; and Toluca, Mexico.

“It truly was a remarkable year for our company,” said Peter Blake, CEO of Ritchie Bros. “We helped a record number of buyers and sellers to access the global market using our unreserved auctions. Our gross auction sales performance was a clear indication that our auctions continue to provide real value for our customers."

The Ritchie Bros. 2007 auction calendar begins in Jackson, Miss., at the end of January. There are more than 20 unreserved industrial auctions and more than 50 unreserved agricultural auctions already listed on the 2007 auction calendar. Equipment listings and information about upcoming auctions are available on the Company's website, www.rbauction.com.

Ritchie Bros. is the world's largest auctioneer of industrial equipment, operating through more than 110 locations in more than 25 countries around the world.