Activist investor Carl Icahn is at it again — and Apple might be lending moral support to his latest target.
Tim Cook was reportedly one of several tech leaders, along with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who was consulted by eBay CEO John Donahoe for advice on how best to deal with Icahn.
Donahoe has been locked in conflict with Icahn regarding Icahn’s suggestion that eBay should spin PayPal off as its own company.
The disagreement has quickly escalated into a full-on feud. Icahn disclosed a 2.2% stake in eBay in January and has become its seventh-largest shareholder. “Their response has essentially been to say ‘we don’t want anyone raining on our parade — we’re the great eBay’,” Icahn noted in one interview. “I never walk away unless there’s a reason to walk away.”
eBay, for its part, has countered many of Icahn’s claims.
“When statements are made about our company that are factually inaccurate and misleading, then we owe it to our shareholders to set the record straight,” said eBay spokesperson Amanda Miller, said. While Icahn argues that there is money to be made by spinning the highly profitable PayPal out as its own entity, eBay argues that it provides PayPal with data, and a strong financial foundation that sets it up for success.
What business advice Cook gave Donahoe isn’t known — but he can certainly speak from experience.
Cook had his own clash with Apple shareholder Icahn late 2013 and early 2014. Icahn originally asked Apple to repurchase $150 billion worth of stock, but later dropped this down to $50 billion, before letting it go altogether — supposedly happy with Apple’s own repurchase plans. (His hand may have been forced somewhat by the ISS recommending that shareholders vote “no” on Icahn’s proposal.)