World News

Starboard ends proxy fight at eBay, withdraws director nominations

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

(Reuters) – Activist investor Starboard on Thursday ended its proxy fight at eBay <EBAY.O> by withdrawing its four director nominees four days after the ecommerce company named a new chief executive.

EBay said it plans to name another independent director in the coming months and will consider the people Starboard had suggested as directors.

The decision ends a month-long public fight that erupted at the same time companies around the world were dealing with the outbreak of the coronavirus and concentrated mostly on running their businesses and keeping employees safe.

Investors welcomed the news, which eliminates a distraction for management, and sent eBay’s shares up more than 2% to trade at $36.96.

“This conclusion best positions our Company and our new

Chief Executive Officer to move forward and achieve all that we and Starboard hope can be accomplished for our stockholders, employees, and community of buyers and sellers,” the company and the hedge fund said in a joint statement.

New York-based Starboard, which owns roughly 1% of eBay’s stock, last month moved ahead with its proxy fight after months of private negotiations in order to publicly push eBay to bring in an outsider as its permanent chief executive. Starboard also pressed for a sale of eBay’s classifieds advertising business.

On Monday, eBay named Jaime Iannone, the chief operating officer of Walmart Inc.’s <WMT.N> e-commerce division, as its chief executive. Iannone had previously worked at eBay.

The company had been without a permanent CEO since Devin Wenig left in September after a disagreement with the board. Since then former Chief Financial Officer Scott Schenkel has been running eBay.

Starboard pressured eBay anew in 2020 after having been given a hand in naming a director in 2019. Also in 2019, eBay appointed Jesse Cohn, head of U.S. equity activism at Elliott Management, to its board.

Starboard, unlike many rivals, has pushed ahead with proxy contests at several companies in which it owns stock despite the coronavirus, suggesting to some that its director nominees would be better able to guide them through the crisis.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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