Skype Founders Mull Buy Back From eBay

Seeking equity

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The founders of Internet telephone service Skype, currently owned by eBay, are interested in buying back the company they sold four years ago.

Niklas Zennstrom & Janus Friis
Niklas Zennstrom & Janus Friis

Co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have been in contact with a number of private equity firms in order to make a bid for Skype, the New York Times reported.

eBay purchased Skype from the two men in 2005 for $2.6 billion, and later received bonus payments that brought the final price to $3.1 billion.

Zennstrom and Friis are trying to raise around $1 billion in equity from private investors. A source familiar with the situation said a potential deal could have eBay putting up the rest of the financing with a seller’s note making the transaction worth more than $2 billion.

eBay has acknowledged that Skype has few synergies with the rest of its ecommerce and payments business. John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, has shown interest in selling Skype for the right price.

Analysts have been in favor of eBay spinning off or selling Skype, a move that has the potential to return more cash to shareholders.

Skype has over 405 million registered users, up from 53 million when eBay acquired it, and the service had $145 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Skype Founders Mull Buy Back From eBay
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