Partnerships / Acquisitions

Starboard Nominates Head Of Research To eBay Board

EBay is seeing challenges arise from activist investor Starboard

Spurred by frustration that eBay has not yet sold its online classified ads business or made changes to its board, activist investor Starboard is nominating a series of new directors to the company board, including Starboard's head of research, Peter Feld.

Starboard won the right to put one new director on the board of the online marketplace. However, it has privately nominated a set of new minority directors, according to people familiar with the matter. Assuming there is no settlement by June of this year, those director nominees would be up for election at the San Jose, CA-based annual company meeting.

There was no confirmation on how many directors Starboard nominated to the 14-person eBay board. Feld also sits on a number of other boards of companies including Norton LifeLock Inc. The move comes after a rocky period for eBay, which was once a darling of the internet but has been diminished by the presence of eCommerce titan Amazon in recent years.

Recently eBay closed a $4 million sale of its StubHub ticketing business, leaving it with the classified ads business and the core marketplace, which works to connect buyers and sellers of various items of a wide-ranging nature.

In late February, after discussions with Starboard for several weeks, eBay announced that it had been exploring options for the classified business and is in discussion with several prospective buyers. Firms that have expressed interest are TPG, Blackstone, German publishing company Axel Springer and internet conglomerate Naspers, among others. The classified ads business, which mainly operates overseas, could be worth as much as $10 billion.

The marketplace business has also been the subject of takeover talk. New York Stock Exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange expressed interest, approaching eBay about a deal, although shareholders declined to move forward. And eBay was looking to sell off its South Korean arm earlier this month.

Currently, eBay has a marketplace valuation of around $28 billion.

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