Icahn, eBay War of Words Rages On

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Activist investor Carl Icahn refuses to back down as eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) continues to engage him in a war of words over the company’s corporate governance and the future of PayPal.

On Thursday morning, Icahn released his third open letter this week. He responded to eBay’s rebuttal Wednesday, reiterating his opinion that board members Scott Cook and Marc Andreessen have conflict of interests with overseeing eBay.

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“Having Mr. Cook on the board while planning PayPal’s future is akin to having Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, sitting in when the Denver Broncos were constructing their game plan for the Super Bowl,” Icahn wrote.

Cook is the founder of Intuit, a competitor of PayPal, and Andreessen and Silver Lake Partners purchased a controlling stake of Skype from eBay before selling it to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

Less than 10 minutes after Icahn released his letter, eBay chairman and founder Pierre Omidyar issued a statement saying Icahn made “unsubstantiated claims” about eBay and its board that are “false and misleading.”

Omidyar, eBay’s largest shareholder with an 8.37% stake, reiterated his full support of Cook, Andreessen and eBay CEO John Donahoe. He also took a swipe at Icahn’s relatively new status as a shareholder and his proposal to spin off PayPal.

“This is not a new idea. It is a question our board has asked ourselves as we periodically evaluate strategic options for the company,” Omidyar said.

It was unclear if Omidyar had seen Icahn’s latest rebuttal prior to the publication of his own  comments.

In response to Icahn’s accusations about Skype, Omidyar said Andreessen recused himself from all deliberations on the deal. Andreessen and Silver Lake purchased a controlling stake in Skype from eBay before selling it to Microsoft more than a year later.

Icahn also challenged eBay to a public debate; eBay has not yet responded to the offer. On Wednesday, Icahn promised to detail a business plan to spin off PayPal in the coming weeks.

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