Apparently Carl Icahn isn’t the only activist investor that was interested in eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY). Today media reports indicate that Dan Loeb’s Third Point hedge fund took a “significant” stake in the online auction giant and may even have played a role in the decision to spin off PayPal into a separate company. In fact, it sounds like Loeb should be credited for the win rather than Icahn.
eBay announces plans to split
eBay announced this morning that it plans to split its Marketplaces business from PayPal into a separate business in the second half of next year. The announcement stated that both companies will be publicly traded after the split.
Shares of eBay moved higher after the company’s announcement in the premarket trading hours.
Dan Loeb joins Carl Icahn in eBay
Carl Icahn has been battling eBay’s board of directors for some time, pushing them to separate the Marketplaces business from the PayPal business. The board put up major resistance to Icahn’s pressure, but Dan Loeb appears to have had more success.
Both CNBC and Reuters are reporting that unnamed sources said Loeb’s firm Third Point held a “significant” stake in eBay. They also report that Loeb “had conversations with [eBay CEO] John Donahoe” earlier this year.
A softer touch necessary?
Icahn’s tactic in pressuring eBay for a split involved repeated attacks on the company’s board of directors. In typical Carl Icahn fashion, he accused Donahoe of mismanaging the company and board members of having too many conflicts of interest. The activist investor eventually stopped attacking when eBay added former AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) executive Dave Dorman to its board of directors.
It would see that Loeb’s quieter tactic resonated better with eBay’s board. CNBC’s Scott Wapner, who was first to report that Loeb held a “significant” stake in eBay, also reported that Loeb was “very pleased with the split,” according to his source.
He also said that Loeb did not take his position in eBay overnight, indicating that the activist investor has been gradually building his stake in the online auction company over time. Interestingly, another one of Loeb’s major positions, Sothebys (NYSE:BID), partnered with eBay for online art auctions.