Don’t put that Skype IPO into your calendars just yet. Earlier this week, eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) said it would spin off the calling service, but today CEO John Donahoe amended that, saying the company was still open to other offers. He said that he would “maximize the value of Skype. Period,” explaining that the company would assess any reasonable offers made between now and 2010, when the IPO is scheduled. He said he isn’t opposed to an outright sale to a buyer. As for the IPO option, Donahoe said eBay would remain a significant shareholder following an IPO and would decide what to do with its stake — hold it or sell it in the public markets — as the time went on.
We hinted that eBay might be open to other options in a story earlier this week about a report by Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post, who argued that the IPO announcement could be a ploy to entice more buyers to come to the table or to gain leverage in negotiations with current potential buyers.
As a standalone business, Skype has been a success. Thomas Wiesel analyst Christa Quarles says revenue has doubled every year since 2005 and estimates it will produce $111 million in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) during 2010. But eBay has had a hard time finding the right place for it in its core e-commerce business.