CPP Investment Board, others snap up Skype
EBay  Tuesday announced it has signed an agreement to sell its Skype voice-over-IP service to a group of private investors in a deal that values the business at US$2.75 billion.

The acquiring group, which will have 65 per cent ownership of the business, is led by Silver Lake Partners and includes Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

The CPP Investment Board sees the Skype purchase as an opportunity to acquire “a leader in the rapidly growing Internet-telecommunications market,” according to Joel Kranc, manager of communications for the CPP Investment Board.  

The CPP Investment Board is a professional investment management organization based in Toronto. The board invests the assets of the Canada Pension Plan in a way that maximizes returns without undue risk of loss. The CPP Fund is (Cdn)$116.6 billion.

Kranc said the investment board is confident with Skype’s technology and the decision to acquire the copmpany is backed by partners “who have deep knowledge and expertise in the communications sector.”

“Skype is a leading provider of Voice over Internet Protocol, with strong year over year growth and remains a market leader with strong brand awareness,” Kranc said.

Skype’s popular Web-based software allows users to save on long distance charges by enabling them to make phone calls using the Internet. EBay acquired Skype Technologies SA in 2005 for US$2.6 billion.

EBay said it expects to receive about $1.9 billion in cash and a $125 million note from the buyers.

EBay will hold on to a 35 per cent stake in Skype, which is the most popular VOIP service in the world, with 480.5 million registered users. Expecting Skype to be an innovative way for merchants and buyers to communicate, eBay paid $2.6 billion for the service in 2005. But Skype did not enhance communications as expected, and two years after the acquisition, eBay wrote down Skype’s value by $1.4 billion.

Skype is still growing however, adding 37.3 million users in the second quarter this year, according to eBay.

The transaction, which is not subject to a financing condition, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009. (With files from Nestor Arellano)

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