Icahn pushes eBay to sell 20% of Paypal via IPO

In yet another open letter to eBay shareholders, the activist investor outlines a scheme in which the online marketplace sells off part of PayPal.

An Ebay and PayPal stand at the 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images

Carl Icahn won't give up on nagging eBay over selling PayPal (among many other things), but a new suggestion demonstrates he might be backing down -- albeit slightly.

The American business magnate published yet another open letter to eBay shareholders on Wednesday, outlining a scheme in which eBay sells off 20 percent of PayPal through an initial public offering.

As described by Icahn, the online marketplace conglomerate would then be able to keep the majority of PayPal.

Aside from the rather lengthy proposal, Icahn reiterated his disappointment (to put it lightly) in eBay's leadership:

Over the last few weeks, we have raised a number of troubling questions regarding corporate governance at eBay. Sadly, in our opinion, these questions have never been adequately answered by eBay. Now, we have given a basic overview of the reasons we believe a 20% IPO of PayPal could be advantageous for the companies, employees and stockholders. We hope that eBay's management is paying attention and decides to respond to this first message on the topic in a productive, transparent manner.

Icahn concluded by stressing he believes in the value of PayPal, but warned "it is on the verge of going to war against strong adversaries, and only with the benefits of being an independent company, as described above, will PayPal be capable of winning that war."

This new suggestion regarding the future of the digital payments brand is only the latest incursion between eBay and Icahn's investment group empire.

The trouble with eBay started in January amid the company's fourth quarter earnings report. At the time, Icahn suggested (putting it mildly) that PayPal should be spun off.

Ebay didn't agree.

By the end of February, Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of the board of eBay Inc., published a pointed letter rebuffing Icahn's public criticism of eBay CEO John Donahue as well as two prominent shareholders, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and Intuit founder Scott Cook.

Since then there has been a flurry of public memos and outbursts volleyed back and forth, including one by Icahn arguing that Icahn that Andreessen had too many conflicts during the Skype sale, putting up his reputation for further scrutiny.

Then last week, eBay took things to a new level in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, urging shareholders to ignore both Icahn's nominees for the board of directors while encouraging them to re-elect CEO John Donahoe and director Fred Anderson.

This story originally appeared as "Icahn's latest tip: eBay should sell 20 percent of PayPal via IPO" on ZDNet.

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