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eBay Does Deal with the Devil

eBay’s board not only capitulated to Carl Icahn’s demands last year that eBay separate the Marketplaces and Payments businesses, now it has signed an agreement giving in to additional demands.

In its Q4-2014 earnings release on Wednesday, eBay revealed the news:

The company also announced today that it has entered into a standstill agreement with investor Carl Icahn, the company’s largest active shareholder. In addition to certain corporate governance provisions to be adopted by PayPal as an independent company at the time of its spin-off from eBay Inc., the agreement also appoints Icahn Capital executive Jonathan Christodoro to eBay Inc.’s current Board of Directors.

On September 30, 2014, eBay Inc. announced that its board of directors had approved a plan to separate the company’s eBay and PayPal businesses into two independent publicly traded companies in 2015, subject to customary conditions. The agreement with Mr. Icahn allows him to determine which board Mr. Christodoro will serve on at the time of separation.

eBay had been fighting Icahn tooth-and-nail last year, calling him a mudslinger and a liar.

But Icahn had also succeeded in his wish that Marc Andreessen step down from eBay’s Board of Directors, though eBay said it was not an ouster.

In a separate press release on Wednesday, eBay announced the appointment of Frank Yeary and Perry Traquina to its board of directors. “These appointments bring the total number of directors to 15, 13 of whom are independent.”

Could the new agreement with Icahn have anything to do with his silence about eBay’s board granting its top tier executives, including Donahoe, tens of millions of dollars in retention bonuses?

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.