eBay has struck a deal with activist investor Carl Icahn to drop proposals for the company to spin off PayPal through an IPO, letting eBay take advantage of the market's big demand for new tech firms. While it appears that Icahn has lost this battle, he comes away with one significant concession: eBay has agreed to add a new member to its board, as selected by him. That member, David Dorman, was previously the CEO of AT&T and currently holds top positions on the boards of CVS and Motorola Solutions. Icahn is also withdrawing his two other nominations to eBay's board, both employees of his own company.
"The battle ended with a whimper."
"The battle ended with a whimper," StockTwits founder Howard Lindzon writes on Twitter. "eBay takes down Icahn." Linzon suggests that the dip in Icahn Enterprises' share price over the last three months, fluctuating beneath $115 before falling to around and below $100 this week, played a big part in Icahn's loss. With much of Icahn's purchasing power coming from his company, its recent falter may well have let eBay fight back successfully. For its part, eBay has argued that PayPal's synergies with its core business make it worth keeping.
Icahn still isn't dropping his hopes for a PayPal spinoff though. "I continue to believe that eBay would benefit from the separation of PayPal at some point in the near future and intend to continue to press my case through confidential discussions with the company," Icahn says in a statement. Icahn also says that he will be meeting regularly with eBay's CEO to discuss "strategic alternatives" to separating the two companies. Though his battle may not be as public, Icahn now has a man on the inside with Dorman, and it's possible that he could attempt another public battle should eBay's stock begin to slip.