A high-​​profile activist investor’s latest use of the mega­phone is to call for an iconic tech firm to split up. Carl Icahn wants eBay to spin off PayPal, sep­a­rating the online auc­tion site from the dig­ital pay­ment ser­vice. eBay’s CEO wants to hang onto PayPal. He says keeping it pro­vides that enduring cor­po­rate buzz­word: synergy.

It’s a seam­less inte­gra­tion for the users of eBay,” says Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina busi­ness strategy pro­fessor Arvind Mal­hotra. “That’s always been a big advan­tage, to have such a dom­i­nant pay­ment system be part of your company.”

Mal­hotra can also lay out the oppo­site argu­ment about PayPal. Sep­a­rating it from eBay would poten­tially make it a more attrac­tive option for eBay’s com­peti­tors. That might enable a fast-​​growing ser­vice to grow even faster.

Carl Icahn believes set­ting PayPal free will boost the stock, pointing out that eBay has higher growth rates than other eBay lines of business.

He’s also calling for change at Apple. And many other tech firms have found them­selves in the crosshairs of activists. Market watchers expect con­tinued interest from activists in tech­nology companies.

They’re not young any­more,” says North­eastern Uni­ver­sity finance pro­fessor Don Mar­gotta. “Now people are looking at them no longer as con­stant growth engines, but as maturing companies.”

Even an aging com­pany can still make enough money to be fresh meat for activist investors.

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