Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Will EBay sell off 65% in Skype for $2b?

EBay Inc agreed to sell 65% of its Skype Internet-calling unit to an investor group led by Silver Lake for about $2 billion to focus on reviving sales at its main e-commerce site. The buyers will pay $1.9 billion in cash and will also give EBay a $125 million note, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Ebay, which had planned an initial public offering for Skype, will retain 35% of the business.

The sale lessens CEO John Donahoe’s dependence on a unit that he has said doesn’t fit with the rest of EBay’s operations. The company is improving its Internet-retail operations to stem customer defections to Inc. Donahoe’s predecessor bought Skype for about $2.6 billion in 2005 and wrote down its value the following year.

The buyers also include Andreessen Horowitz, a venture-capital firm headed by Internet pioneer Marc Andreessen, and Index Ventures, a firm that invested in Skype before EBay acquired it.

Skype, started in 2002, lets people make calls from their computers to land lines and mobile phones, as well as other computers. It makes money when users call regular phones, set up voice mail and use text-messaging services.

Donahoe said in May that Skype’s value in an IPO could be over $2 billion.


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