EBay Is Holding Settlement Talks With Activist Investors

(Bloomberg) -- EBay Inc. is in settlement talks with Elliott Management Corp. and Starboard Value that could result in the activist investors avoiding a proxy fight at the online marketplace, according to people familiar with the matter.

Among the terms of the agreement being discussed are board seats for representatives of the hedge funds and a potential review of EBay’s operations, including exploring a sale of the company’s ticket resale site Stubhub as well as its classifieds business, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

The firms may come to a joint agreement or individual settlements with Ebay, the people said.

Elliott, run by billionaire Paul Singer, disclosed a 4 percent stake in the company last month and proposed a five-point plan to improve its performance. EBay and its investors are hoping to reach an agreement before Friday, the deadline for nominating directors, to avoid a proxy fight, the people said. Talks are ongoing and may fall apart, they said.

A representative for Ebay declined to comment. Representatives for Starboard and Elliott weren’t immediately available for comment.

The activists are adding to the pressure on Chief Executive Officer Devin Wenig, who took over EBay following its split with PayPal in 2015 with promises to return the online marketplace to prominence. The results have been slow-going and EBay continues to lose customers and market share to Amazon.com Inc., which is growing faster. While EBay has launched marketing campaigns to expand beyond its base of mostly 50-plus year old men, investors want more.

EBay’s shares could be valued at $55 to $63 if the company follows Elliott’s proposals, the hedge fund has said. EBay has fallen about 15 percent over the past 12 months and traded around $37.19 on Tuesday, giving it a market value of $34 billion.

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