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could sell Skype, its Internet telephone company, if a substantial bid was made, according to a report that cites insiders and analysts.

The U.K.'s

Times Online

says industry insiders believe that eBay signaled its intent last week after CEO John Donahue described Skype as a "great stand-alone business." This has led to suggestions that eBay would find it relatively easy, if it received a substantial bid, to part with Skype.

eBay last week reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings that exceeded analysts' consensus estimates, but the company predicted that its current-quarter profit will fall short of expectations. EBay reported fourth-quarter revenue of $2.04 billion, down $145 million from a year earlier, primarily because of the stronger dollar and weakening economic conditions around the world.

When asked last week what eBay was doing to add shareholder value in Skype, Donahue admitted that "the synergies between Skype and the other parts of our portfolio are minimal. We're going to continue to run and operate the business. It's not a distraction currently. And at such time when we have further announcements on that, we'll let you know," the

Times Online


Donahue's comments have reignited rumours that eBay will consider offers for Skype. Larry Witt, an analyst with MorningStar, said: "If someone's willing to pay the right price, I don't think

eBay would have a problem selling it," the

Times Online

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eBay, which bought Skype in 2005 for $2.6 billion, wouldn't comment.

The report says industry insiders suggested that potential buyers for Skype might include


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This article was written by a staff member of