November 4, 2009 / 2:30 AM / 8 years ago

Settlement near in Skype, Index dispute--WSJ

* Skype founders to get stake, board seat--report

* Index, Volpi dropped from investment group--report

* Skype founders to drop other claims against eBay--report

LOS ANGELES, Nov 3 (Reuters) - A settlement is near in a lawsuit that could have blocked eBay Inc (EBAY.O) from selling a majority stake in Web phone service Skype to Index Ventures and other investors for $1.9 billion, sources told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

The Delaware federal court lawsuit, brought by Joltid and Joost, the companies of Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, accused Index and its partner Michelangelo Volpi of using confidential information in their bid to acquire a 65 percent stake in Skype. Volpi was previously Joost’s chief executive.

Sources told Reuters last month that Zennstrom and Friis have tried to buy back Skype, which they sold to eBay in 2005, and had contacted several private equity firms.

EBay instead agreed to sell to a consortium that includes Index, private equity firm Silver Lake, Netscape founder Marc Andreessen’s Andreessen Horowitz and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

On Tuesday, sources told the Journal that a settlement could come as early as this week. The settlement would drop Index and Volpi from the investment group and give Zennstrom and Friis a stake and at least one seat on the company’s board.

Under the proposed agreement, Zennstrom and Friis would end a separate intellectual-property dispute with eBay, the Journal reported. It was not clear whether the Skype founders would also drop the lawsuit against Volpi and Index for alleged breach of fiduciary duty, the Journal said.

An eBay spokesman declined to comment on the report. (Reporting by Gina Keating; Editing by Gary Hill)

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