EBAY WEIGHS SELLING OFF BUSINESSES AFTER PRESSURE FROM ACTIVIST INVESTORS
eBay may be paving the way to auction off some of its businesses. The e-commerce company said Friday that it is initiating a strategic review of its assets, including ticket sales site StubHub and the Classifieds Group, after facing pressure from activist investors to spin off or sell these properties.
eBay (EBAY) is also adding two directors to its board, including Jesse Cohn of Elliott Management, a hedge fund that disclosed a 4% stake in the company in January and began agitating for change.
Devin Wenig, eBay’s president and CEO, said in a statement Friday that these moves are the result of “two months” of dialogue between the company and investors.
“The bottom line is that we all share common ground: We see tremendous opportunity ahead and want to see eBay’s full potential realized over the long-term,” Wenig said. Last month, eBay announced a restructuring that would bring various regional marketplace units under one global leadership team.
In its announcement Friday, eBay stressed that there’s no guarantee the strategic review will lead to a sale or spin off of its business properties. eBay expects to announce the findings of the review at an event this fall.
Even if it does end up appeasing the investors by offloading assets, some analysts question how much it would turnaround the business, which faces a year’s-long decline in relevance and prestige.
“eBay has been losing share in e-commerce for many years now,” says Ygal Arounian, an analyst who tracks eBay for Wedbush. “Amazon (AMZN) has done a good job of displacing them and elbowing them out.”
The best case scenario, he says, is that selling StubHub and the Classified business leads to a financial windfall, which can then be reinvested to help improve eBay’s core marketplace product.
“Just selling those businesses doesn’t automatically solve their larger problem, which is that their marketplace business hasn’t kept pace,” Arounian says.