EBay has been under pressure from Icahn to split its payments subsidiary PayPal from its wider e-commerce operation and add two independent directors in its board, but eBay consistently fought back saying the company was better off as one. Icahn accused eBay's management of being asleep, he said the board was conflicted, and he tried to make the case that the company's strategy was failing.
Ahead of its shareholder meeting on May 13, eBay and Icahn jointly announced an agreement, where the activist investor withdrew his proposal to separate the PayPal business.
The company agreed to Icahn's suggestion to appoint David Dorman, a former chairman at Motorola, as an independent director to its board, expanding the number of independent directors to 10 on the 12-member board. "As a result of our conversations, it became clear that Carl and I strongly agree on the potential of PayPal and our company," Donahoe said in an April 10 press release announcing the agreement.
While Icahn rescinded his PayPal proposal, he still believes it is better off as a separate company. "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 said in the release.
So now it's back to business for eBay, and the pressure will likely be rising to prove that PayPal is better in the eBay family and that management can put Icahn's critique to rest for good.
EBay shares are little changed year-to-date after rising as high as $59.70 a share amid Icahn's activist efforts. Shares have gained 3% in the past 12-months.
-- Written by Antoine Gara, with Laurie Kulikowski in New York.