eBay will sell a controlling stake in VoIP subsidiary Skype in a deal that values the business at €1.93 billion.
The buyers, a group of private equity firms led by Silicon Valley-based Silver Lake, will pay €1.33 billion in cash and a €87.9 million loan from eBay for a 65% stake.
eBay will own the remaining 35%. The auction firm bought Skype for more than €2.18 billion in 2005, but later wrote down €633 million as it was unable to extract value out of Skype’s huge user base.
“Skype is a strong standalone business, but it does not have synergies with our e-commerce and online payments businesses,” eBay CEO John Donahoe said.
eBay announced in April that it planned an IPO for Skype in 2010. But the sale represented better value, said Donahoe.
"We've acted decisively on a deal that delivers a high valuation, gives us significant cash up-front and lets us retain a meaningful minority stake with talented partners.”
After operating for only 5 years, Skype has emerged as the largest provider of cross-border voice traffic in the world, generating nearly 74 billion minutes of use in 2008, according to Telegeography.
While 65.5 billion of these minutes were free Skype-to-Skype calls, the company recorded revenues of €387 million last year, up 44%, and eBay predicts its sales will top €703 million by 2011.
Skype also reported 5.6 billion minutes of paid, computer-to-telephone traffic in 2007, and 8.4 billion minutes in 2008.
TeleGeography estimates that approximately 33 billion minutes of Skype’s computer-to-computer traffic was international, up from 22 billion minutes in 2007. Skype accounted for 8% of all international voice minutes in 2008, up from 6% in 2006.
Silver Lake said Skype CEO Josh Silverman would remain with the company.
Investing alongside Silver Lake are Index Ventures, Netscape founder Marc Andreessen’s Andreessen Horowitz, and the Canada Pension Plan.