Business

Carl Icahn again urges eBay to spin off PayPal

Carl Icahn said that ‘‘complete disregard for accountability at eBay is the most blatant we have ever seen.’’ Icahn, who owns about 1 percent of the company’s stock, is campaigning to put allies on eBay’s board and make fast-growing PayPal a separate operation.

BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

Carl Icahn said that ‘‘complete disregard for accountability at eBay is the most blatant we have ever seen.’’ Icahn, who owns about 1 percent of the company’s stock, is campaigning to put allies on eBay’s board and make fast-growing PayPal a separate operation.

NEW YORK — EBay and activist shareholder Carl Icahn are continuing their war of words over PayPal.

The billionaire has been pressuring the e-commerce company to spin off the online payment business. But eBay has said it’s not interested in separating from its fastest-growing segment.

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On Monday, Icahn said in a blistering letter to shareholders that ‘‘complete disregard for accountability at eBay is the most blatant we have ever seen,’’ and he criticized two directors and the chief executive specifically for ‘‘lapses in corporate governance.’’

EBay responded that it continues to believe stockholders are best served by keeping PayPal as part of the company.

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PayPal, which eBay bought for $1.3 billion in late 2002, is growing faster than the company’s core marketplaces business. In the fourth quarter, payments revenue of $1.84 billion accounted for about 41 percent of total revenue for the period. Recently, PayPal has been expanding into brick-and-mortar stores after serving solely as an online payments service.

In January, eBay said Icahn had taken a less than 1 percent stake in the company and was seeking a nonbinding shareholder resolution to spin off PayPal. At the time, Icahn nominated two of his employees for eBay’s board.

EBay executives said then that they had looked into a split from PayPal but believed it wasn’t the best move for shareholders. But they said they will review Icahn’s nominees.

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In his letter Monday, Icahn also alleged some board members have conflicts of interest. Among those to catch Icahn’s fire: Scott Cook, founder of Intuit Inc. Icahn questioned Cook’s role, saying Intuit and PayPal are direct competitors. Icahn also questioned Marc Andreessen’s loyalty to eBay, saying he was able to achieve significant personal financial benefit from buying large stakes in two former eBay subsidiaries.

Icahn also drubbed eBay chief executive John Donahoe, saying he seems ‘‘completely asleep or, even worse, either naive or willfully blind to these grave lapses of accountability and stockholder value destruction.’’

EBay said Cook, Andreessen, and Donahoe were unavailable for comment. But in a statement, the company said its board is ‘‘scrupulous in its governance practices and fully transparent with regard to its directors’ other affiliations and businesses.’’

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