eBay and Activist Investment Group Starboard Value Call a Truce – For Now

eBay San Jose Circa 2018

eBay and one of its largest and most vocal shareholder investment groups, Starboard Value LP, called a truce in their ongoing battle over the future of the company.

Following the hiring of Jamie Iannone as eBay’s new CEO, Starboard has withdrawn its nomination of director candidates for election at eBay’s 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The Company anticipates holding the 2020 Annual Meeting in June.

In addition, eBay has announced the Company expects to name a new independent director to its Board in the next few months and, as part of its evaluation process of potential director candidates, it will consider the individuals Starboard nominated.

“We appreciate Starboard’s thoughtful and constructive dialogue over the past 20 months, including their recent identification of highly-qualified Board candidates, whom we look forward to meeting. This conclusion best positions our Company and our new Chief Executive Officer to move forward and achieve all that we and Starboard hope can be accomplished for our stockholders, employees, and community of buyers and sellers.”

 

Tom Tierney, eBay’s Chairman of the Board

Starboard Gets Its Way

Starboard has been pushing eBay’s board to create more shareholder value by selling off pieces of the company so it could focus on its primary marketplace business.

The divisions targeted by Starboard included StubHub and eBay’s Classifieds Group. Recently, it also emerged that eBay’s Korean operations may be up for grabs as well, but that never had been publically demanded by Starboard.

Earlier this year, and just in time it now appears considering the global suspension of many live entertainment events due to the coronavirus crisis, eBay completed the sale of StubHub to Viagogo.

Reportedly, eBay was talking with potential buyers for its Classifieds Group and South Korean marketplace. However, with the global economic meltdown from the coronavirus public health emergency, it’s likely those talks are currently in limbo until there is more clarity on the global economic situation.

Under the circumstances, Starboard appears to be content for now, especially since it is prudent to give eBay’s new CEO an opportunity to develop a long-term strategy for the company.

“We appreciate the constructive relationship we have with eBay’s Board of Directors and management team. We are pleased with the Company’s actions taken in connection with its strategic portfolio review, including the completed sale of StubHub and the recent confirmation that eBay has been exploring potential value-creating alternatives for Classifieds with multiple parties, and we are excited about the hiring of an accomplished CEO in Jamie Iannone. We commend the Board on these actions, which are aligned with our recommendations and our shared goal of long-term stockholder value creation. We are excited to build a relationship with Jamie, and we look forward to sharing our views with him on the opportunities we see to drive improvements in the Marketplace business.”

 

Peter Feld, Managing Member of Starboard

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