Icahn jumps eBay ship, swaps shares in favor of PayPal

Activist investor Carl Icahn is placing his bet on the future of PayPal rather than online auction site eBay.


Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has pulled out the entirety of his stake in eBay in favor of financial service PayPal.

As reported by Reuters, the 79-year-old investor has sold his stake in eBay in a swap which gives him the same amount of shares in PayPal, equal to 46.3 million shares.

The exchange was recorded with the Securities and Exchange Commission in July.

The move completes the corporate spinoff of PayPal and eBay, a business move Icahn has long campaigned for.

Once Icahn has the bit between his teeth, the investor is not often dissuaded -- and the eBay-PayPal split was no exception. The billionaire posted a number of public letters and levied criticism at the online marketplace's board of directors, branding it "dysfunctional" and alleging several executives hampered the company's growth in favor of personal gain as a way to encourage the split, which Icahn believed would benefit shareholders.

Despite Icahn's withdrawal from pushing for the scheme in April, the seed was planted. Following a six-month study, eBay executives announced the company split, giving eBay investors one share of each company for each share they held in eBay.

Former eBay CEO John Donahoe originally said, "the best way to drive long-term shareholder value is to keep eBay and PayPal together," but following the study, Donahoe switched sides, commenting that the eBay team eventually "got to the same place that Carl said early on."

After shedding PayPal, eBay delivered a solid Q3 financial report, beating expectations with a net income of $545 million, or 45 cents per share.

Icahn's stake in PayPal now amounts to 3.8 percent of the company. The stake is valued at $1.4 billion.

According to the filing, Icahn also took out a stake in American International Group (AIG) equating to 1.36 million shares. The investment came alongside the investor penning a public letter to AIG CEO Peter Hancock, urging the executive to split the company.

Icahn says AIG is "too large" even after years of selling assets and dismantling, and promoting services such as life insurance and property & casualty insurance as one entity offers "no benefit" to shareholders whatsoever. However, should AIG split into three separate companies, investors would reap the benefits.

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