January 23, 2008 / 9:25 PM / 12 years ago

EBay CEO Whitman to step down as of March 31

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - EBay Inc (EBAY.O) Chief Executive Meg Whitman will step down at the end of March, to be replaced by John Donahoe, the head of its main online auction business, the company said on Wednesday.

Whitman will remain on the company’s board, eBay said in a statement shortly before it released financial results.

Rajiv Dutta, now head of eBay’s PayPal business, will replace Donahoe in the marketplaces division.

Shares in eBay rose sharply before the company confirmed Whitman’s planned departure, an idea that had been the focus of speculation this week. She will leave the company after spending a decade at its helm.

Analysts have said new leadership at eBay could help inject some energy into the company’s shares, which had suffered from weaker growth, rising competition from online retailers and a large write-down for its investment in online communications company Skype.

Others see its auction business as potentially durable in the face of a U.S. recession, as consumers use its sites to hunt for bargains.

Reporting by Eric Auchard, with additional reporting by Michele Gershberg in New York; Editing by Braden Reddall

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