Elliott Management pressed online marketplace eBay Inc. (EBAY) - Get Report to adopt a plan to increase shareholder value, accusing management of "underperforming its peers and the market for a prolonged period of time."
Elliott, which said it controls a 4% stake in eBay, said management should "turn its singular attention to growing and strengthening marketplace", asserting the group is "far from broken, and its future should be bright". Elliott's five-step plan, the activist said, outlines a value creation opportunity that would take the path of Ebay shares to between $55 and $63 each by 2020.
"Despite its remarkable history as one of the world's largest e-commerce platforms, eBay as a public-company investment has underperformed both its peers and the market for a prolonged period of time," Elliott said in a letter to the company's board of directors. "While eBay's core Marketplace continues to enjoy sustained growth and the two other franchises that eBay owns, StubHub and eBay Classifieds Group, are thriving, eBay suffers from a deeply depressed valuation due to its history of misexecution."
"Elliott believes that eBay is worth far more - but change is urgently needed to address both public perceptions and real business issues," the letter added.
eBbay shares were marked 11.3% higher in the opening minutes of trading and changing hands at $34.51 each, a move that takes the stock back to levels last seen in early September and values the San Jose, Calif-based group at just over $33.2 billion.
Elliott, whose stake is now valued at around $1.4 billion, wants eBay to engage in a "full operation review of how it spends and develops its funds", with an aim to increase operating expenses by $250 million from 2018 to 2021.
It also said eBay's event ticketing business, StubHub, has a value of between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion, compared to a range of $8 billion to $12 billion for the group's classified advertising division.
The Wall Street Journal reported that another activist investor, Starboard Value LP, has built a similarly-sized stake in eBay and may push for the group to spin off StubHub and the classifieds division in order to create more shareholder value.