FILE PHOTO: An eBay sign is seen at an office building in San Jose, California May 28, 2014. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
(Reuters) – EBay Inc has informed Elliott Management Corp it is willing to explore shedding some of its key assets and give the hedge fund board representation in a bid to avert a proxy contest, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
The U.S. e-commerce company, whose shares have dropped 15 percent in the last 12 months, has offered to explore options for its StubHub ticket sales business and eBay Classifieds Group, including a sale, as Elliott has called for, the sources said.
EBay is also discussing offering board seats to Elliott, though no agreement has been reached and negotiations could still fall apart, the sources said. If a deal is reached, it could be announced by March 1, when the deadline to nominate directors to eBay’s board expires, the sources added.
Another activist hedge fund in eBay’s stock, Starboard Value LP, is in talks to also drop any threat of a proxy contest, but is not discussing any board representation and is not teamed up with Elliott in its efforts, according to one of the sources.
The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Elliott declined to comment, while Starboard and eBay did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The Wall Street Journal first reported details of the settlement talks with Elliott.
Elliott said last month that StubHub on its own could be worth between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion and eBay Classifieds, which has an international footprint, could be sold or spun off and worth between $8 billion and $12 billion. EBay has a market value of $34 billion.
EBay this month announced a restructuring plan that will unite geographic regions under a global segment and said that a senior executive, Scott Cutler, will leave.
The online seller has been a target for activist investors before. Carl Icahn urged eBay to spin off payments unit PayPal Holdings Inc in 2014, a move the company followed through on in 2015.
Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Susan Thomas