New York Stock Exchange-owner Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) made a tentative takeover offer for e-commerce giant eBay (EBAY), potentially valuing the company at more than $30bn (£23bn), according to the Wall Street Journal.
Confirming that it had approached eBay, Intercontinental Exchange said that the company had not engaged with the offer in a “meaningful” way.
“We are not in negotiations regarding the sale of all or part of eBay,” ICE told the Financial Times.
Citing unnamed sources familiar with the discussions, the Financial Times said that ICE, which is the world’s second-largest exchange group, held on-and-off talks with eBay, but did not at any stage make a formal takeover offer.
“ICE approached eBay to explore a range of potential opportunities that might create value for the shareholders of both companies,” ICE told the Wall Street Journal late on Tuesday. “EBay has not engaged in a meaningful way.”
It added: “Over ICE’s 20-year history, the company’s track record of creating shareholder value, both through organic growth and acquisitions, speaks for itself. ICE does look to explore potential opportunities that it expects will deliver enhanced shareholder value, and will continue to do so in the future.”
The Wall Street Journal said that ICE was primarily interested in buying eBay’s core marketplace business, rather than the classified advertising arm that eBay is more interested in offloading.
Shares in ICE fell 7.8% on Tuesday, and were up slightly in after-hours trading. Shares in eBay, meanwhile, were nearly 9% in the green at market close in New York. They were down slightly in after-hours trading.
Activist investors in eBay have been seeking significant changes at the company in recent months.
Hedge fund Starboard Value pressured eBay to sell off ticketing seller StubHub, and is also the one pressing it to offload the classified advertising business.
Starboard this week criticised eBay for not acting quickly enough on the results of the investor-led strategic reviews in the company.