eBay sells Skype stake

A team of investors led by Silver Lake is to acquire a 65% share of Skype Technologies, the free internet-based phone and video call company, from US online auction giant eBay in a US$1.9bn deal.

eBay will continue to hold a 35% interest following the transaction, which values Skype at US$2.75bn.

Joining US technology investor Silver Lake in the consortium are European VC Index Ventures; Andreessen Horowitz, a recently launched venture capital firm led by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz; and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

eBay acquired Skype in September 2005 in a US$2.6bn deal from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Bessemer Venture Partners, Mangrove Capital Partners and Index. Two years after this, eBay wrote down Skype by US$900m.

Complicating the latest deal is the legal action filed by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who are suing eBay and the new investor group on the grounds of copyright violation.