Icahn, but Iwont: Carl the investor pest ends war with eBay
World's least silent partner strikes deal with auction site
Carl Icahn has finally made peace with eBay after withdrawing his call for the auction site to divorce from its partner Paypal.
The meddlesome investor has spent the last few months rudely demanding the spin off of eBay's payment service and asking for two of his aides to be put on the firm's board.
After a barrage of open letters, tweets and press comments, he has finally relented and withdrawn both these demands.
As a sop, eBay has agreed to let Carl's chum David Dorman become an independent director on its Board of Directors.
At an age when most people would be thinking of retiring, 60-year-old Dorman is still going on strong following a career in which he founded the private investment firm Centerview Capital Technology and served as a board member of Motorola Inc. until it split into two back in 2012.
Icahn issued a lengthy statement in which he explained that he had now struck a confidentiality agreement with eBay, which should bring an end to his seemingly interminable public campaign.
He said: “We are happy to have reached this détente with eBay and believe that Dave Dorman will be a great addition to the company’s board of directors.
“Regarding the confidentiality agreement, we have entered into similar agreements in the past with other companies and, as results show, they have worked with great success. I am optimistic that this arrangement with eBay will enhance our ability to discuss large issues affecting the company with greater intelligence and will help to enhance shareholder value."
Icahn has been in deep conversation with eBay CEO John Donahoe over the last week and claimed to have found his ideas "compelling". Sadly for John, Icahn has vowed to continue calling for the separation of eBay and Paypal in a bid to create "sustainable value" for all shareholders. However, the gagging clause means that no-one in the outside world will be able to hear his pleas.
The agreement precludes Icahn from sharing any non-public information eBay directors or other senior staff members might share with him. However, these important figures are now allowed to speak to Carl, although it is unclear why they would want to.
Now that peace has broken out, it would appear that Donahoe is delighted to have shut Carl up.
“We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with Carl, settling proxy issues and enabling our board and management team to focus our full attention on a goal every shareholder agrees on – growing PayPal and eBay, and delivering sustainable shareholder value,” he said.
“As a result of our conversations, it became clear that Carl and I strongly agree on the potential of PayPal and our company. I respect Carl’s willingness to work together to drive sustainable shareholder value today and into the future. His record shows that he has done this with many other companies in the past."
Carl Icahn is perhaps the most activist investor the world has ever seen. As well as repeatedly badgering eBay, he also tried to force Apple to launch a $50bn share buyback. His crusade saw him square up against the pensioners of California, who attacked Icahn's "megaphone diplomacy". ®
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