Investor Carl Icahn has demanded two members of the board of eBay to resign, as he questions their loyalty towards the company and believes there is a conflict of interest within the board.
Interests in competing businesses
Icahn, who controls 2.15 % of eBay’s shares, wrote a letter to the other shareholders in which he stated that two members of the board of directors, Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook, had interests in eBay competitors, posing that as a reason for their resignation.
Andreessen alledgedly has invested in (and advises for) Boku, Coinbase, Dwolla, Jurnio and Fab, five companies Icahn believes to be direct eBay competitors while four of them also compete with PayPal, a part of the eBay group.
"Afraid of a standalone Paypal"He also questioned the selling of Skype to a group of investors, to which Andreessen belongs, for 70 % less than what eBay paid for it – especially as Skype was subsequently sold to Microsoft for a 4 billion dollars (2.9 billion euro) profit only 1.5 years later.
Cook’s conflicting interests are supposed to be because of his ties to Intuit, which has GoPayment as a director competitor to Paypal: according to Icahn, this is the exact reason Cook is stopping PayPal’s spinoff out of fears it would impact Intuit. “Is Mr Cook wary of how a standalone PayPal could impact the company he founded? Is he worried that it would diminish the value of his $1 billion in Intuit stock”, Icahn wondered.
PayPall will not be split off
EBay is not amused by Icahn’s statements, especially the fact that he attacks two exquisite members of the board with his letter. They retort that Andreessen had no part in the decision to sell Skype. Both he and Cook were not available for comments.
Icahn wants PayPal to be split off from eBay, something the higher echelons of eBay management had also considered for a while, before the decision was made to keep PayPal as an important part of eBay. The company believes synergy would be lost if both companies were split up.