Skype founders said to be eyeing eBay company: report

J. Pitts (L) talks with Garff Fitzgerald at an eBay kiosk during the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 9, 2007. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The founders of Web telephone service Skype, currently owned by eBay Inc, are interested in bidding for the company they sold some four years ago, according to a media report.

Co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have contacted several private equity firms in order to make a bid for the company, the New York Times reported on its website on Saturday.

The fast-growing Skype, which lets fellow Skype customers

call each other for free and posted $550 million in revenue in 2008, was acquired by eBay after former Chief Executive Meg Whitman thought Skype could find an audience in eBay’s auction sellers and buyers.

But current CEO John Donahoe has said that Skype has no synergies with the rest of eBay, which also owns Web payments service PayPal. Donahoe has said the company would do what was best for eBay and Skype, comments that some on Wall Street have taken as an interest in selling.

The Times wrote that it was unclear whether the two co-founders were actively engaged in negotiations with eBay.

A representative for eBay could not be immediately reached for comment.

One source, whom the Times said had knowledge of the discussions, said the duo were hoping to raise about $1 billion in equity from private investors. Another potential scenario cited by the source would see eBay putting up the rest of the financing via a seller’s note for a deal estimated to be worth more than $2 billion.

Analysts have been pushing eBay to spin off or sell Skype or PayPal, possibilities that could allow eBay to return more cash to shareholders.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Jan Paschal