eBay today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its Skype communications unit in a deal valuing the business at $2.75 billion.
The buyer, who will control an approximately 65 percent stake, is an investor group led by Silver Lake and includes Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board. eBay is expected to receive approximately $1.9 billion in cash upon the completion of the sale and a note from the buyer in the principal amount of $125 million. The company will retain an approximately 35 percent equity investment in Skype. The transaction, which is not subject to a financing condition, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009.
"This is a great deal, unlocking both immediate and long-term value for eBay and tremendous potential for Skype," said eBay Inc. President and CEO John Donahoe. "We've acted decisively on a deal that delivers a high valuation, gives us significant cash up-front and lets us retain a meaningful minority stake with talented partners. Skype is a strong standalone business, but it does not have synergies with our e-commerce and online payments businesses. As a separate company, we believe that Skype will have the focus required to compete effectively in online voice and video communications and accelerate its growth momentum."
In April 2009, eBay announced plans to separate Skype from the company, beginning with an IPO in 2010. The decision followed a year-long review of Skype within eBay's portfolio. As it prepared for an IPO, the company said it would naturally consider bids for Skype that offered an attractive valuation. Donahoe said the deal offered by the investor group achieved that.
Acquired by eBay in 2005, Skype has strengthened considerably since early 2008 when Donahoe was named eBay's CEO and tapped company executive Josh Silverman to lead Skype. Silverman has driven strong momentum while building a new management team and delivering a series of Skype innovations such as software upgrades with dramatically improved video and calling quality, the popular Skype iPhone app and mobile partnerships with companies such as Nokia and Hutchison. In 2008, Skype generated revenues of $551 million, a 44 percent increase compared to 2007. Registered Skype users reached 405 million by the end of 2008, a 47 percent increase from 2007.