Thursday, 25 August 2016
Last updated 16 min ago
Mar 10 2014 | 2:48pm ET
An exchange of insults has become an almost daily occurrence between Carl Icahn and eBay Inc.
The latest verbal jousting has the online marketplace dismissing Icahn's two board nominees as unqualified. Icahn responded with another shot at eBay CEO John Donahoe, and the company returned the compliment.
Icahn has argued that eBay should spin-off its PayPal unit, and has hammered the company over the alleged conflicts of interest of two prominent board members and of its sale of online video chatting company Skype. In January, he nominated two of his own employees to serve on its board.
eBay, however, told its investors in a preliminary proxy statement that Jonathan Christodoro and Daniel Ninivaggi are not qualified to serve as directors, and are in any event too busy serving on other boards to do the job. The last criticism may be a veiled shot at Icahn, who has taken eBay directors Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook to task for having too many competing interests.
In recent weeks, Icahn's sharpest attacks have been on Donahoe, a pattern that continued today.
"I believe that all stockholders must consider whether Donahoe is either incompetent or negligent or, perhaps even worse, was simply taking the easy path of bowing to the wishes of a respected and powerful board member," Icahn wrote on his website.
eBay quickly shot back that Donahoe enjoys a "track record of success at eBay," and that, "in pursuit of his own profit motives, Carl Icahn has made another unsubstantiated attack on John. Just like his previous ones, this attack is false and misleading and has already been utterly discredited by the facts."
Given the increasing bitterness, it's perhaps surprising that Icahn and Donahoe have apparently been in touch. Donahoe told Fortune that the two have met and had a "good, mutually respectful dialogue that's different than all that stuff going on in the media." Donahoe added that Icahn made clear what he planned to do.