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eBay execs to sell $15 million in stock

eBay Chairman Pierre Omidyar and three company executives file to sell more than $15 million worth of stock in the online auction giant.

eBay Chairman Pierre Omidyar and three company executives on Thursday filed to sell more than $15 million worth of stock in the online auction giant.

Omidyar, who founded eBay and is the company's largest shareholder, registered to sell 83,800 shares, worth about $4.9 million. Others registering to sell stock included Maynard Webb, president of eBay's technology division; Jeff Jordan, senior vice president and general manager of eBay's U.S. operations; and Mike Jacobson, the company's general counsel.

The proposed stock sales are part of the normal selling activity by eBay's board of directors and executives, said company spokesman Kevin Pursglove. The company's executives typically sell shares for financial planning purposes or to diversify their portfolios, he said.

The proposed stock sales are only the latest by eBay executives. Earlier this week, a trust controlled by Meg Whitman, the company's chief executive, filed to sell 405,000 shares of eBay stock, worth about $22.4 million. Last month, Matthew Bannick, senior vice president in charge of eBay's international operations; Chief Financial Officer Rajiv Dutta filed to sell shares worth more than $1 million each.

Although eBay's stock has performed better than most dot-coms in the past two years, it is down more than 12 percent this year. eBay's stock closed down 95 cents in regular trading Thursday on the Nasdaq national market to $57.62. In after-hours trading on the Island ECN, eBay shares were up 37 cents to $57.99.

Webb's was the largest of the proposed stock sales filed Thursday. He filed to sell 100,000 shares of eBay stock for about $5.5 million. Webb registered to sell 100,000 shares each in May and November of last year.

Jacobson registered to sell 70,000 shares for about $3.7 million. And Jordan registered to sell 22,221 shares for about $1.3 million.

Both Jacobson and Jordan have sold similar amounts of stock last year. Just last month, Jordan filed to sell 22,222 shares for about $1.2 million.

eBay executives have consistently sold rather than bought the company's stock, said Lon Gerber, director of insider research for Thomson Financial Securities Data. Additionally, after many of the insider sales, eBay's stock has tended to decline in value, he said.

However, Gerber said the latest sales are not alarming. They seem to fit a regular pattern of sales by eBay executives and often represent a fraction of their overall holdings, he said.

Executives of technology companies such as eBay tend to sell large amounts of stock on a regular basis because so much of their compensation is tied to options or stock grants, Gerber noted.

"From an insider trading perspective, this is definitely negative," he said. But he added, "I wouldn't look at this and say this is abnormal for a tech company."