Ebay’s shares have jumped around nine per cent after the owner of the New York Stock Exchange reportedly made a takeover bid for the company.
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is understood to have approached the online marketplace to explore a range of possibilities including a potential takeover, The Wall Street Journal reported.
On Tuesday ICE confirmed reports that it had approached Ebay to discuss options that could “create value for the shareholders of both companies” but added that these had essentially led to nothing.
In a statement ICE said that it was “not in negotiations regarding the sale of all or part of Ebay” as the auction site had “not engaged in a meaningful way”.
Sources close to the matter said that ICE has approached Ebay on numerous occasions in the past, but it was unclear whether talks would restart following its recent engagement.
The potential deal would could reportedly valued Ebay at $30 billion and would have only been for its marketplace business, not its classified advert arm.
Speaking to CNBC, an Ebay spokesperson said: “The Ebay board is aligned and open to all value-enhancing alternatives. The board is highly engaged and has acted, and will continue to act, consistent with its focus on shareholder value.”
Investors were apparently not so optimistic about ICE’s seemingly out of character potential foray into online retail, seeing its shares drop 7.5 per cent on the news.
This comes amid a turbulent time for Ebay, which has been undergoing a strategic review of its operations since March.
Activist investors Elliott Management and Starboard Value, which purchased a stake in Ebay and introduced members to its board in early 2019, have been piling pressure on the company to make changes in the face of growing competition from the likes of Amazon and Walmart.
This culminated in the shock departure of its chief executive David Wenig in September, who said it was clear he was “not on the same page as my new board”.
In November, Ebay also succumb to investor pressure to offload its ticket sales website StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05 billion (£3.15 billion).