March 11, 2020 / 7:46 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Starboard nominates minority slate of directors to eBay board

(Changes sourcing, adds details about plans, background)

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

March 11 (Reuters) - Activist investor Starboard Value has nominated directors to the board of eBay after criticizing the online marketplace for not moving quickly enough in selling its on-line classifieds business, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

EBay has faced pressure from Starboard before, especially after the two sides agreed in early 2019 that Starboard would be permitted to help select one board member.

This year Starboard's minority slate includes Peter Feld, a portfolio manager and the firm's head of research, the sources said. They did not say how many directors Starboard nominated to eBay's 14 member board. The hedge fund, which first bought a stake in eBay in 2018, nominated the slate in private, the sources said. It now owns about 1% of eBay.

The move was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Neither Starboard nor eBay responded to requests for comment.

Ebay came in for fresh criticism earlier this year when Starboard said the company had not moved fast enough to sell the classifieds business, which it feels competes with its main marketplace.

The company has said that it plans to release an update on the classifieds business by the middle of the year. EBay's shareholder meeting is expected to be held in June and unless the two sides reach a settlement before that time, investors would then be able to vote on Starboard's directors.

Roughly a year ago, eBay handed two board seats to activist investors. Jesse Cohn, a portfolio manager at Elliott Management, which had also been pushing for changes, joined the board along with Marvell Technology Group's Matt Murphy, who was backed by Starboard.

Last month Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE), the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, said it had approached eBay Inc to explore “a range of potential opportunities.” But it said eBay had "not engaged in a meaningful way" and it was not in negotiations regarding the sale of all or part of eBay. (Reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Tom Brown)

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