Ebay sells majority stake in Skype

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Ebay sells majority stake in Skype

Warwick Ashford

Ebay has sold a majority stake in its Skype internet telephony division, which, according to chief John Donahoe, did not fit eBay's core e-commerce business.

Donahoe has been seeking to unload Skype ever since taking over from his predecessor Meg Whitman, who led eBay into the internet telephony arena.

Just over a year ago, Donahoe said he would consider selling off Skype if it failed to find any real synergies with its core e-commerce business.

Ebay has reached a deal to sell a 65% stake in Skype to a group of private investors as expected, but that does not include the Skype founders. Earlier this year, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis tried to raise funds to buy back their old company, but failed to meet eBay's asking price.

Instead, the $1.9bn cash deal is with a group made up of private equity firm Silver Lake, venture capital firms Index Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, and a group of banks led by JPMorgan Chase, according to the Financial Times.

London-based Index Ventures was an initial backer of Skype. Andreessen Horowitz was co-founded by Marc Andreessen, a founder of Netscape and a director of eBay.

According to eBay, the sale values the entire Skype business at $2.75bn, which represents a better outcome for shareholders than earlier offers of $2bn.

Ebay acquired Skype in 2005 for over $3bn, but later valued the company at around $1.67m.

Skype is now recognised as one of the fastest-growing private internet businesses, reporting revenues of $551m in 2008.


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