Skype Buy Back Not Likely

    April 14, 2009

A proposed buyout of eBay’s Skype by the Internet calling services co-founders and a group of private – equity firms is not likely to be completed.

Niklas Zennstrom & Janus Friis
Niklas Zennstrom & Janus Friis

The private equity firms involved in the potential purchase of Skype include KKR, Warburg Pincus, Providence and Elevation Partners, along with the founders of the Internet calling service, according to a Wall Street Journal blog post.

Founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis approached eBay about buying back Skype, which bought the service for 2.6 billion in 2005. eBay signaled it was open to an offer, and the Scandinavian billionaires turned to a group of private-equity firms to back them, a person familiar with the situation said.

The proposal by the private-equity firms and co-founders would involve eBay committing $1 billion to the deal, along with financing.

eBay reportedly rejected the founder’s offer because it was well below the price it wanted to sell Skype for. The two sides are not close to an agreement and a deal involving the private-equity firms is not likely to happen, according to sources familiar with the situation.

eBay has indicated it was open to parting with Skype, after initially planning to integrate the phone service with its marketplaces business.

Skype is eBay’s largest acquisition and has been a disappointment for the ecommerce company. It has indicated it would be open to the sale of Skype for the right price and has acknowledged it has little synergy with the rest of its core business.