Carl Icahn Renews Push to Shake Up eBay

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Activist investor Carl Icahn has “not yet begun to fight” according to his latest open letter to the shareholders of eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) Thursday. His impetus was an investor survey that showed 55% of respondents support a shakeup of eBay’s board of directors.

Icahn has argued in recent weeks that eBay should spin off PayPal into a separate business to achieve its full value. He also believes that board members Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook should be replaced. Icahn took a stake in eBay in January.

eBay CEO John Donahoe says that top shareholders disagree with Icahn that PayPal should be spun off from the company. He said, “I met with fifteen, sixteen of our top twenty active investors, have engaged back and forth in dialogue with them. The majority of them understand that they’re stronger together.”

One of those top shareholders, company founder, Pierre Omidyar, said:

A new eBay shareholder, Carl Icahn, is making unsubstantiated claims about our company — and deliberately impugning the integrity of our directors. Instead of having an honest discussion about a reasonable question, Mr. Icahn has chosen to attack the integrity of two highly respected and qualified board members, Scott Cook and Marc Andreessen. He also has attacked the integrity of our CEO John Donahoe.

In Icahn’s Thursday letter to shareholders, he pointed to the 43% of survey respondents who thought spinning off PayPal is the right decision. Icahn believes and independent PayPal would encourage eBay competitors like Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) to adopt PayPal’s service, thereby boosting PayPal’s growth.

Investors will get a chance to make their feelings on the matter known at the company’s next shareholders meeting.

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