EXCLUSIVE - Icahn's stake in eBay close to 2 percent - source

Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:12am IST

An eBay logo is projected onto white boxes in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw, January 21, 2014. REUTEwhite RS/Kacpe

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REUTERS - Activist investor Carl Icahn's stake in e-commerce company eBay Inc (EBAY.O) is more than previously reported at close to 2 percent, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

EBay said this week that Icahn had taken a 0.82 percent interest in the company earlier this month and made a non-binding proposal for eBay to spin off its PayPal payments business. EBay has a market capitalization of about $70 billion.

Representatives for both EBay and Icahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the size of Icahn's stake.

Icahn told Reuters in an interview he preferred a spinoff of the business to an outright sale. "I personally think you do a spinoff tax-free. After that maybe it could potentially be sold at a great premium," Icahn said.

EBay Chief Executive John Donahoe forcefully rejected Icahn's proposal on Wednesday, saying the company was better off remaining intact.

Icahn has also proposed two nominees to the eBay board. EBay identified them as Icahn Enterprises LP (IEP.O) employees Daniel Ninivaggi and Jonathan Christodoro, both of whom Icahn regularly nominates to boards.

Christodoro is a director at Herbalife Inc (HLF.N) and Talisman Energy Inc (TLM.TO), while Ninivaggi is a director at Federal-Mogul Corp.

Donahoe told Reuters on Wednesday that eBay had a "world-class" board.

EBay is not the only technology company in Icahn's sights. The billionaire investor said Wednesday he had bought $500 million more shares in Apple Inc (AAPL.O) in just the past two weeks, bringing his investment in the iPhone maker to over $3 billion.

(Reporting by Nadia Damouni and Phil Wahba in New York)

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