Four years after leading a charge to make PayPal more nimble by severing it from eBay, investor Carl Icahn is reportedly dissolving his investments in the payment company.
Icahn originally pushed for eBay and PayPal to separate in 2014, arguing eBay's ownership of the payment company made other partners reluctant to collaborate with PayPal out of competitive concerns. Reuters reported the sale of Icahn's stake, as well as dumping his position in AIG.
eBay's management initially pushed back against Icahn by arguing the auction/payment company tie-up was inseparable and noting eBay's earlier attempt to build its own payment engine failed. eBay also reported PayPal received most of its digital payments volume from eBay purchases. eBay initially purchased PayPal in 2002, beginning a long relationship of intertwined services.
But the companies separated later in 2014, with PayPal's management changing its tune by trumpeting an independent PayPal's ability to quickly add new digital transaction technology and merchant partners to compete with Square, Amazon and Walmart as well as pursue its goal of supporting payments inside physical stores.
That take turned out to be correct, as PayPal has reported strong earnings driven by its expanding Venmo P2P app and its Braintree software development business.
PayPal and eBay had retained a nominal payment processing relationship, though that too has begun to wane, as eBay chose to gradually shift processing to Adyen over the next five years.
Icahn, who dumped his eBay position after the PayPal split, has been gradually selling off his PayPal position more recently while adding to his positions in Herbalife and Hertz. Icahn's investing career dates to the 1980s, when he was known as a "corporate raider."
More recently, Icahn, who has served as an advisor to Donald Trump, has been the subject of controversy for moves in the steel industry around the time of U.S. tariff announcements.