Less than four years after acquiring GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion, eBay Inc. announced Jan. 21 that it will divest the business through a sale or IPO of its Enterprise segment. The transaction will need to be consummated before eBay spins off its legacy Marketplace business and fast-growing PayPal business later this year as part of a broader restructuring designed to unlock shareholder value.
EBay disclosed the plan Jan. 21 in a its fourth quarter earnings report, which also revealed it plans to cut approximately 2,400 positions, or 7 percent of its workforce ahead of the breakup. EBay also announced it reached a standstill agreement with activist investor Carl Icahn, who pushed for a PayPal spinoff last fall and has been pressing eBay's board to make sure a stand-alone PayPal adopts rules that make it easier for shareholders to oust management.
“We are taking a closer look at eBay Marketplaces and eBay Enterprise going forward,” said eBay President and CEO John Donahoe. “And it's clear that the two businesses have increasingly divergent opportunities. As a result, we've decided to explore strategic alternatives for eBay Enterprise, including a full or partial sale or IPO. Until this process is complete, we do not anticipate commenting further.”
EBay Enterprise provides omnichannel sales, fulfillment and marketing services to North America's largest sporting goods retailers, including Dick's Sporting Goods, SportsChek and Sports Authority, as well Eastern Mountain Sports and such brands as Helly Hansen, Quiksilver and Timberland. EBay reported net revenue and gross merchandize sales (GMS) at the business both increased 9 percent in the fourth quarter to reach $443 million and $1.93 billion respectively. Enterprise shipped 55 million units from its fulfillment centers during the 2014 holiday season. Full-year net revenue grew 6 percent to $1.24 billion, while GMS grew 13 percent to $4.18 billion. Initial guidance provided by eBay last week calls for Enterprise revenue and margins to grow 5-to-8 percent and 5-to-10 percent respectively in currency neutral terms.
Enterprise includes the former GSI Commerce business as well as Magento, which eBay acquired in separate transactions in 2011. Magento is an e-commerce platform used by 240,000 retailers worldwide. After acquiring GSI Commerce in 2011, eBay immediately divested sold its licensed sports merchandise business – Fanatics Inc. – and 70 percent of its ShopRunner and Rue La La businesses – back to Kynetic, a holding company controlled by GSI founder and CEO Michael Rubin. Contacted last week, Fanatics VP of Communications and Corporate Branding Meier Raivich declined to comment on whether Rubin was interested in bidding for eBay Enterprise.