|Quick Carl Icahn is making his list and checking it twice. IMO splitting the company would do more damage than good . |
Icahn Adds eBay to His Targets in TechnologyAs if taking on Apple wasn’t enough, the activist investor Carl C. Icahn has another big technology company in his sights: eBay.
EBay, the big e-commerce and online payments company, disclosed a small stake by Mr. Icahn as it released full-year and fourth-quarter results on Wednesday.
In the news release accompanying results, eBay said that Mr. Icahn had submitted a nonbinding proposal to spin off its PayPal business and that he had nominated two of his employees as candidates for eBay’s board. Mr. Icahn’s total position amounted to less than 1 percent of eBay, which has a market capitalization of more than $70 billion.
EBay said it “welcomes the opportunity to listen to the perspective of all of its shareholders, including Mr. Icahn,” and said his nominees would be passed on to the company’s corporate governance and nominating committee. But it also said “eBay has a world-class board” of directors “who have significant experience in technology and financial services.”
Among those on the eBay board are the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen; the Intuit founder Scott Cook; the chairman of the Ford Motor Company, William C. Ford Jr.; and Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay.
The company dismissed Mr. Icahn’s suggestion that PayPal be spun off. Though it acknowledged it had considered such a move, it said that the board “concluded that the company and its shareholders are best served by the current strategic direction of the company and does not believe that breaking up the company is the best way to maximize shareholder value.”
It’s not that eBay hasn’t spun off big units in the past. Just a few years ago, it sold Skype to Silver Lake Partners, which in turn sold it to Microsoft. But eBay’s chief executive, John Donahoe, has made the relationship between eBay’s e-commerce businesses and PayPal a core part of his strategy. EBay shares have soared 310 percent since the financial crisis.
“As part of eBay Inc., PayPal is able to leverage the company’s technology capabilities, commerce platforms and relationships with retailers, brands and large merchants worldwide,” the company said. “Payment is part of commerce, and as part of eBay, PayPal drives commerce innovation in payments at global scale, creating value for consumers, merchants and shareholders.”
In after-hours trading on Wednesday, shares were up 5 percent. It was not immediately clear how much of this was the result of Mr. Icahn’s presence in the stock, or the fact that eBay reported full-year revenue growth of 14 percent, a 9 percent increase in annual profit, and a new $5 billion share buyback plan.