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eBay to sell ticketing unit StubHub for US$4.05b

E-commerce major had come under pressure to hive off some businesses

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Last month, eBay forecast its holiday quarter revenue below estimates, as it faces intense competition from Amazon.com and Walmart Inc.

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EBAY Inc will sell ticketing unit StubHub to ticket reseller Viagogo Ltd for US$4.05 billion in cash, the companies said on Monday, nearly a year after the e-commerce major came under pressure from activist investors to hive off some of its businesses.

In January, activist investors Elliott Management Corp and Starboard Value had urged eBay to sell its ticket sales business and eBay Classifieds Group as part of a plan that could double the company's value.

Elliott valued StubHub between US$3.5 billion and US$4.5 billion, while eBay Classifieds between US$8 billion and US$12 billion.

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Viagogo chief executive officer Eric Baker had co-founded StubHub but left before the business was sold to eBay for US$310 million in 2007.

Following the activist investors' request, eBay made changes to its board of directors in March. It announced a review of its StubHub and eBay Classifieds businesses as part of an agreement with activist investors to avert a proxy contest.

Elliott Management declined to comment on the development on Monday, while Starboard Value did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for a comment.

The online seller had been a target of activist investors before. In 2014, Carl Icahn asked eBay to spin off its payments unit PayPal, a move which the company followed through in 2015. The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2020, comes after the exit of former CEO Devin Wenig in September, following his differences with the company's revamped board.

The e-commerce company is expected to provide an update on its classified ad business next year.

Last month, eBay forecast its holiday quarter revenue below estimates, as it faces intense competition from Amazon.com and Walmart Inc.

"The core business remains challenged and these developments won't directly impact it this quarter," Wedbush analyst Ygal Arounian said on the divestiture impacting eBay's holiday quarter.

Goldman Sachs & Co LLC acted as financial adviser to EBay, while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Quinn Emanuel acted as legal advisers, according to the joint statement by the companies. JP Morgan is acting as financial adviser to Viagogo, while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP are its legal advisers. REUTERS

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