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PayPal mudslingfest TELEVISED: Icahn and Donahoe go on telly

Investor: eBay has 'worst governance ever'. CEO: It's just Carl's usual 'antics'

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The fight between activist investor Carl Icahn and eBay over the fate of PayPal has hit the media, after Icahn claimed that he'd "never seen worse corporate governance" at another firm.

Speaking to CNBC television, Icahn criticised the firm's governance policy and also said that eBay chief exec John Donahoe shouldn't have control over PayPal. The investor wants eBay to spin off the payments business, which is a big earner for the online marketplace.

Icahn has already written to investors citing a laundry list of faults with the way eBay is run and its board of directors.

He alleged that the board, particularly Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook, had conflicts of interest when it came to PayPal. On CNBC, he said that he "might blame Donahoe more than Andreessen" for letting the sale of Skype happen. The investor criticised the sale of Skype to Andreessen's investor group, saying that it was an "indisputable fact" that the subsequent sale of the VoIP firm to Microsoft a year and a half later made the group $4bn richer.

In the same letter, he said that he'd invited eBay onto CNBC to debate the future of the payments firm, but Donahoe went to Fox Business Network and Reuters to respond instead.

"We know this is sort of the antics that Carl uses and that's fine, he does what he does," the eBay chief told Fox. "Our focus is doing what we want and what shareholders, the other large shareholders, want us to do, which is stay focused on innovating and executing in the market."

Donahoe also told Reuters that he'd spoken with as many as 16 of the 20 most active shareholders in eBay and most of them supported his position of wanting to hang onto PayPal.

"The majority of them understand that they're stronger together," he said.

The top 20 shareholders, headed by founder Pierre Omidyar with an 8.4 per cent stake, hold a combined 42 per cent of eBay shares. Icahn owns just over two per cent of the firm. ®

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