Activist investment firm Elliott Management has sold its last shares of EBay as share prices hit a record high.
Elliott appears to have done well with its EBay investment. It first disclosed a stake in EBay — worth 4% of the company or about $1.13 billion — in January 2019.
At that point, it embarked on a public campaign to boost shareholder value by streamlining operations, implementing shareholder dividends and selling off non-core assets, specifically the StubHub ticket reselling marketplace and the EBay Classifieds Group.
Over the ensuing two years, EBay has changed CEOs and it has accomplished or taken steps to do everything Elliott had demanded. Most notably, it began issuing quarterly dividends to shareholders in the spring of 2019, it sold StubHub to London-based Viagogo in February 2020 for $4.05 billion, and it agreed in July to sell the Classifieds Group to Adevinta for cash and shares worth $9.2 billion.
In retrospect, the StubHub deal looks like perfect timing for EBay, and just the opposite for Viagogo. The classifieds sale to Adevinta has since run into regulatory headwinds, particularly in the U.K., where authorities are investigating whether the merger will concentrate too much ownership in general-goods classifieds. Despite that, EBay stated during its last earnings call that it expected the Adevinta deal would close on schedule this quarter.
For EBay shareholders, the last two years have been a windfall. EBay’s share price went from a low of $26.58 on Dec. 21, 2018 to a record high of $62.87 at the close of trading Tuesday.
Elliott’s 13F filing on November 16 showed that the investment firm held 9.9 million shares of EBay worth a total of $516 million. But the docket posted on Tuesday showed no EBay stocks.
Elliott exits EBay after fellow activist investor Starboard Value sold its last shares of EBay in November.