Hedge fund Third Point joined Icahn in pressuring eBay: source

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Third Point LLC, the hedge fund run by Daniel Loeb that is known for pushing companies to perform better, has taken a “significant” stake in eBay Inc and has had discussions with its chief executive officer, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Third Point’s involvement comes on the same day that eBay, under pressure from billionaire activist Carl Icahn, said it will spin off its PayPal payments unit into a separate, publicly traded company. EBay’s share price rose 7.8 percent.

Third Point, a closely watched hedge fund with $17 billion in assets, occasionally pushes companies in which it invests to make management or operational changes. Those companies have included Yahoo Inc and Sotheby’s. Loeb also pushed for a spinoff at Dow Chemical Co earlier this year.

With eBay, Loeb urged the company months after Icahn began loudly calling for eBay to offload PayPal.

The source with knowledge of Third Point’s interest in eBay did not say what changes the hedge fund sought, or whether it worked in tandem with Icahn.

Loeb declined to comment on Tuesday.

Icahn said on Tuesday he was happy with the spinoff decision, adding it came later than it should have but sooner than he expected. He said he plans to speak with eBay CEO John Donahoe soon.

Third Point scored another victory on Tuesday, when Masco Corp, which manufactures products for the home improvement and new home construction markets, announced its own spinoff. The hedge fund is one of Masco’s top ten investors and had been in contact with the company.

Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Jeffrey Benkoe