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Execs: EBay Plans To Keep Skype 'Separate,' For Now

EBay executives, discussing their $2.6 billion deal to acquire Skype Technologies, said Monday they plan initially to position Skype closely with their PayPal unit and keep the VoIP firm separate. They noted that future payouts could bring the acquiring figure to $4.1 billion.

“(We) can offer PayPal to every Skype user,” said Niklas Zennstrom, Skype CEO, at a press conference broadcast over the Internet. “PayPal is already one of the largest payment providers on Skype.”

While Zennstrom and eBay’s chief executive Meg Whitman said Skype would continue as a separate operation and would complement PayPal, they added that the European-based VoIP firm would benefit eBay in the long term.

Reports that Skype was for sale had circulated for several days, although Skype denied the rumors. Wall Street took a negative initial stance on the acquisition as shares fell 4 percent on the rumors last week and continued dropping Monday.

With high-tech powerhouses Microsoft, Yahoo and Google beefing up their VoIP entries in recent days, Whitman addressed them head-on saying that Skype has “an enormous lead” in the area and its strong brand continues to be “generations ahead” of competitors. She noted that e-commerce is enjoying an annual growth of between 30 and 35 percent and eBay is working to beat that mark. Skype, she added, should help eBay’s growth.

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