EBay Enterprise Sell-Off Deal Close

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Another private equity group reportedly close to buying eBay Enterprise unit, as PayPal spinoff nears completion

An announcement from the online auction site eBay is reportedly expected soon regarding the $900m (£575m) sale of its enterprise arm.

A group led by private-equity firm Permira is expected to agree the deal this week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Enterprise Exit

PayPal - Shutterstock - © Gil CIt comes after Reuters reported last week that eBay’s enterprise group was close to being sold to the private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners for $1bn (£650m).

But now the WSJ, citing people familiar with the matter, reports that the unit will instead be offloaded to a group led by Permira, with the deal expected to be announced on Thursday, when eBay reveals its financial results.

The enterprise unit (formerly known as GSI Commerce) was acquired by eBay for $2.4bn (£1.54bn) in 2011. It helps retailers such as as Sweden’s home goods giant IKEA develop and improve their online presence and e-commerce capabilities.

But the group has struggled as clients instead opted to move their e-commerce operations in-house.

The WSJ also reported that eBay plans to complete the spinoff of its PayPal payments unit on Friday.

Painful Restructuring

The online auction company is currently undergoing a painful restructuring as it remains mired in a fierce online e-commerce battle with the likes of Amazon.com and Alibaba.

It was in September last year that eBay finally confirmed it would spin off its online payments service PayPal into a separate business.

That move had been widely expected for some time. Indeed, earlier in 2014, eBay had been forced to play down a call to sell off PayPal following comments from activist investor Carl Icahn, who said such a move was a “no-brainer”. At the time, Icahn’s suggestion was politely rejected by the company’s board, which said that it did not believe that, “breaking up the company is the best way to maximise shareholder value.”

But a few months later the board bowed to the inevitable and agreed to hive off PayPal.

The company has also hived off other valuable assets. In June for example it sold its 28.4 percent stake in Craigslist back to the classified-ad website.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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