eBay (slightly) changes its Skype story

March 4, 2014: 12:09 PM ET

As it battles Carl Icahn, eBay makes a subtle change to its Skype sale history.


FORTUNE -- Yesterday I took issue with eBay's claim that its 2009 Skype sale was a "competitive process with multiple bidders including several financial and strategic buyers." Namely, because I can't find any evidence that strategic buyers actually submitted bids -- in large part due to litigation risks related to Skype's underlying intellectual property. Instead, the only two formal offers came from a pair of private equity consortia: One led by Silver Lake (which won) and one led by Skype co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis (who lost).

eBay (EBAY) never responded to my request for clarification, but late yesterday filed a new proxy statement that includes some revised language:

A process was launched to divest Skype. Challenges were widely reported in media, including IP litigation and other issues faced by Skype. eBay explored an IPO and a sale of Skype, contacting multiple financial and strategic buyers. In September 2009, after an exhaustive process, eBay sold a majority stake in Skype to an investor group led by private equity firm Silver Lake. Other investors included the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. The deal valued Skype at $2.75 billion, more than the company had paid for Skype in 2005.

Notice the change there? No longer are "strategic buyers" classified as "bidders." Instead, the "strategic buyers" now were just contacted about making a bid. Subtle, but important, difference.

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