Icahn, eBay trade accusations as fight escalates

Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:16pm EST
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By Nadia Damouni and Phil Wahba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Carl Icahn accused eBay Inc Chief Executive John Donahoe of failing to spot - or ignoring - conflicts of interest on the company's board and called again for the spinoff of its fast-growing PayPal payments business.

Icahn, who also disclosed a 2.15 percent stake in the e-commerce giant on Monday, said in a letter to shareholders that two long-time board members, Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook, had business interests that directly competed with eBay.

The activist investor said he had found "multiple lapses in corporate governance" and called on both Andreessen and Scott to resign from eBay's board. Icahn also urged investors to vote for his two board nominees.

EBay in turn accused Icahn of "mudslinging" and said in a statement that he was attacking two "impeccably qualified directors." Representatives for Scott Cook and Marc Andreessen were not immediately available for comment.

Shares of eBay were up 3.5 percent at $56.49 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq on Monday.

"If he's increasing his stake, and being more aggressive, it increases probability that he actually gets something done," Robert W. Baird & Co analyst Colin Sebastian said of Icahn.

Icahn's latest attack on eBay follows a major payday from his investment in Forest Laboratories Inc, where he was also pressing for a change in strategy and leadership. Forest announced last week that it would be bought by Generic drugmaker Actavis Plc for about $25 billion.

Andreessen is one of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capitalists, while Scott is founder, former CEO and current board member of Intuit Inc, the maker of TurboTax and other business and personal financial software.   Continued...

Billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn gives an interview on FOX Business Network's Neil Cavuto show in New York February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid