Carl Icahn has again posted an open letter on his website, Shareholders’ Square Table, about eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) and the ongoing conflicts of interest he sees with the company’s board members. He said he has uncovered new evidence which he says makes his assertion that shareholders lost billions on the Skype deal indisputable.
Skype sale resulted in eBay shareholders losing
The activist investor blames CEO John Donahoe for overseeing “a premature sale of Skype at a diminsted price,” which he says resulted in eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) shareholders losing more than $4 billion compared with how much Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) paid for the VoIP service provider. Icahn believes Donahoe would be fired if eBay was a private company and the “facts” about this were disclosed.
Donahoe decided in 2009 to sell Skype after receiving offers from “multiple bidders.” Icahn isn’t sure whether there were “multiple bidders,” which eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) originally said or whether the company contacted a number of buyers, which the auction site now claims. The activist investor believes Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was “clearly interested in buying Skype but ‘walked away’ because of concerns over technology licensing litigation between eBay and Sky’e founders.”
Icahn uncovers new documents
Icahn said they discovered new litigation documents in which Donahoe and eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) board member Marc Andreessen learned about a workaround of the licensed technology which caused Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to walk away. He states that Andreessen bought a controlling interest in Skype at that point for $1.9 billion, then settled the licensing litigation and “flipped Skype to Microsoft for $8.5 billion—tripling their money in only 18 months.” The activist investor questions why Donahoe didn’t settle the issue and then just sell Skype directly to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).
He then made the case for why PayPal should be separated from eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY), suggesting that there would be “a number of bidders willing to pay a large premium for an independent PayPal” and that if the payment services provider is left under eBay’s management, then it could “wither,” like BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB), Dell, Nintendo and other technology companies.
eBay launches its own website
Donahoe has maintained that they should keep PayPal as a subsidiary, and his company launched a website—bettertogether.ebayinc.com—which puts forth his case for why the two companies should remain together. On the site, the company states that PayPal has grown faster with the auction site and that it generates about 30% of PayPal’s new users. The company also states that the auction site speeds up PayPal’s success and makes it “smarter.” In addition, it states that it funds the services provider’s growth.