Icahn and I will: Carl's war on eBay goes NUCLEAR over Skype
World's most pushy investor sticks boot in over VoIP biz flog
Carl Icahn has pressed the red button in his war on eBay and has demanded access to all its records documenting the sale of VoIP firm Skype.
The irate investor has published another of his infamous open letters in which he savages eBay management, and board director Marc Andreessen in particular. Icahn wants to launch a full review of eBay's sale of Skype to Microsoft.
Icahn repeated his allegation that Andreessen had a "clear and insurmountable" conflict of interest in the sale of the VoIP biz to Microsoft, because Andreessen was part of a coalition of investors who bought control of Skype for $1.9bn in 2009 – significantly less than the $2.6bn eBay originally paid for Skype in 2005.
In 2011, Microsoft snapped up Skype's service for $8.5bn. Andreessen denies any wrongdoing.
In a letter published last week, Icahn challenged the Netscape founder to a televised debate.
Now he's written a second letter to eBay shareholders yesterday attacking eBay board director Andreessen for shying away from a confrontation on live telly.
"Despite having just days ago professed a desire for 'honest, accurate debate' on the issues, eBay declined CNBC’s offer to participate in a televised discussion with me," Icahn wrote. "Then last Thursday eBay director Marc Andreessen attempted to defend his business practices to the Wall Street Journal but refused to directly address our assertions regarding his conflicts of interest. I think I am beginning to see a pattern here.
"I have a message for eBay’s board: You may be able to duck and weave when it comes to the media, but in a few short weeks you will have no choice but to face your stockholders at the annual meeting. We all deserve to know the truth about what really happened with Skype."
Icahn wants to know whether Andreessen knew that Microsoft was interested in buying Skype when his investment firm first bought it. He also wanted to know whether Andreessen signed a confidentiality agreement with Microsoft ahead of the sale.
In a statement yesterday, the eBay director said he does "not serve on the board of any company with any significant competitive overlap with eBay", and added that he disqualified himself from the eBay board when they worked to separate Skype and eBay.
"False and misleading accusations have been made against eBay and against me in my role as an eBay director," said Andreessen. "I dispute all accusations that I have violated any of my duties to eBay shareholders."
Icahn is known as "an activist" shareholder, which basically means he sticks his nose in whenever he has the chance. He has already angered some Apple investors after calling upon the Cupertino corp to launch a $50bn share buyback.
He owns a 2.15 per cent stake in e-commerce giant eBay and has called for the online marketplace to be separated from the online payment system PayPal. ®