Carl Icahn went tit for tat with EBay Inc. today after the activist investor ramped up his battle with the ecommerce giant, firing off an open letter to stockholders that alleged “multiple lapses in corporate governance.”
Icahn noted that board member Marc Andreessen purchased large stakes in two of the company’s former subsidiaries and reaped large rewards, while his fellow director Scott Cook has a large stake in PayPal competitor Intuit.
He also said that chief executive officer John Donahoe “seems to be completely asleep or, even worse, either naive or willfully blind to these grave lapses of accountability.” Icahn began to publicly push the Web giant to spin off its PayPal business last month and nominated two of his employees for seats on EBay’s board.
EBay said the nominating committee of its board would review the proposals “in due course.”
If his nominees aren’t welcomed into the fold, Icahn is expected to wage a proxy battle, encouraging shareholders to shake up the board.
“We have encountered a situation where we believe we should not even have to run a proxy fight to change the board composition,” Ichan said. “Rather, we believe that in any sane business environment these directors would simply resign immediately from the eBay board, either out of pure decency or sheer embarrassment at the public exposure of the extent of their self-serving activities.”
EBay fired back that, “Carl Icahn has cherry-picked old news clips and anecdotes out of context to attack the integrity of two of the most respected, accomplished and value-driven technology leaders in Silicon Valley. Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook bring extraordinary insight, expertise and leadership to eBay’s board, which is scrupulous in its governance practices and fully transparent with regard to its directors’ other affiliations and businesses. And eBay Inc. president and ceo John Donahoe is widely respected for his turnaround of eBay and leadership of the company over the past six years.”
The company also noted that it’s been clear in its view that “shareholders are best served by keeping PayPal part of eBay.”