Today: eBay and investor Carl Icahn publicly chirp at each other again as the company officially rejects his director nominations. Also: Facebook hits record prices, Apple gains slightly after iOS update.
The Lead: eBay rejects Icahn's nominations, more public acrimony follows
As eBay and Carl Icahn draw closer to their final battle arena, the San Jose e-commerce giant officially rejected the activist investor's nominees for its board of directors Monday and engaged in another public back-and-forth in the two parties' battle over PayPal's independence.
In a statement Monday, eBay put forth four candidates for its board: CEO John Donahoe, Intuit co-founder and Chairman Scott Cook, former Agilent CEO Edward Barnholt and Elevation Partners Managing Director and co--founder Fred Anderson. The statement officially rejected Icahn's proposal to nominate two of his employees, Daniel Ninivaggi and Jonathan Christodoro, to the board, part of his acrimonious campaign to convince eBay to spin off the PayPal payments company.
"After careful review, the board concluded that they are not qualified candidates based on the criteria that have consistently been applied by the committee, including in particular that neither nominee has relevant experience or expertise," board member Richard Schlosberg, who heads eBay's corporate governance and nominating committee, wrote in Monday's statement, which also pointed out that the nominees already sit on four boards, too many in eBay's eyes.
As has been common in the past two weeks, Icahn shot back with a letter focusing on eBay's sale of Skype, which the investor believes was mishandled in a way that personally profited board member Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
"WE BELIEVE BASED ON EVIDENCE WE HAVE NEWLY UNCOVERED THAT DONAHOE'S INEXCUSABLE INCOMPETENCE COST EBAY STOCKHOLDERS OVER $4 BILLION," the title of Monday's response screamed in all capital letters.
In the letter, Icahn claims that Donahoe and Andreessen knew of a technical workaround that would have satisfied Microsoft's concerns when the tech giant was considering bidding for Skype at the time of eBay's attempted divestiture. Instead, a group that included Andreessen's firm purchased the Internet calling company from eBay and sold it to Microsoft less than two years later for a much higher sum.
eBay immediately responded with an email statement backing up its CEO and discrediting Icahn's claims.
"In pursuit of his own profit motives, Carl Icahn has made another unsubstantiated attack on John," the statement read. "Just like his previous ones, this attack is false and misleading and has already been utterly discredited by the facts."
This battle will reach its nadir at eBay's annual meeting, where stockholders will have a chance to vote for directors as well as Icahn's proposition. eBay has yet to set a firm date for the meeting, a spokeswoman said by email Monday; last year's event was held April 18.
eBay stock dropped 1.4 percent to $58.22 Monday, but is still up 6.1 percent for the year.
SV150 market report: Facebook hits records, Apple gains after mobile update
Wall Street indexes slipped Monday on fears of weakness in Asian economies, but Facebook roared to record prices and Apple clocked a slight gain after updating its mobile operating system.
Facebook hit new intraday and closing highs, gaining 3.2 percent to $72.03. The Menlo Park social network announced over the weekend that its will bring back its developers conference, dubbed f8, after a three-year hiatus; the conference will be held in San Francisco on April 30. Facebook received positive attention from UBS analyst Eric Sheridan, who increased his price target on the stock from $72 to $90, explaining that Facebook's ability to demand higher prices for advertising in 2013 has continued in 2014, based on checks with advertisers. "Facebook is gaining increased traction with brands, who view the platform as a means to buy audience/reach," Sheridan wrote.
Apple gained 0.1 percent to $530.92 after performing its first major update on the newest version of its iOS mobile operating system. Among the new features of the updated operating system is compatibility with CarPlay, the car-stereo offering that the Cupertino tech giant announced earlier this month. Netflix dropped 1.9 percent to $439.95 despite beating out Google's YouTube for the first time in a regular survey tracking Internet users' video habits; Google fell 0.3 percent to $1,211.57 while generating excitement about free Android software tools developers of wearable technology. VMware gained 1.5 percent to $103.03 after beating Amazon to the punch with its desktop-as-a-service offering, and Milpitas security software company FireEye continued to struggle after its huge secondary offering last week, dropping 0.9 percent to $80.30.
Up: Facebook, VMware, Palo Alto Networks, Gilead, Intel, Twitter, Apple, Oracle, Juniper, Sandisk
Down: Yelp, Splunk, AMD, Pandora, SunPower, Tesla, SolarCity, LinkedIn, Netflix, Yahoo, Salesforce, Nvidia, eBay, Applied Materials, Workday, Hewlett-Packard, Zynga, Adobe, Electronic Arts, Intuit
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Down 1.33, or 0.08 percent, to 1,568.63
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 1.77, or 0.04 percent, to 4,334.45
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 34.04, or 0.21 percent, to 16,418.68
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Down 0.87, or 0.05 percent, to 1,877.17
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.