Is eBay still an acquisition target?

Following the news that Yahoo! is to be acquired by Verizon, the rumour mill is churning with everyone speculating on which will be the next big dot.com to be acquired. Naturally eBay’s name has cropped up.

Citi analyst Mark May is one of those touting eBay as a target for a merger suggesting that Devin Wenig’s revitalisation of the marketplace is going well with the share price has yet to catch up and reflect the company’s performance.

Possible suitors for eBay according to Mark are Alibaba (let’s hope if it’s them that they do better with eBay than their Far East Competitor, Rakuten did with Play.com), businesses like Google’s parent company Alphabet who would want to add transactional capabilities to their search and payments arms or possibly retailers such as Walmart.

The other alternative suitors would be private equity companies which in my opinion could frankly be the biggest disaster of all. Just look at how Icahn forced the break up of eBay and PayPal. Investors who are purely out to make money aren’t necessarily a bad thing in a capitalist society, but they very often are a bad thing for customers, partners and employees who aren’t top of their list of priorities.

Of course eBay might not merge with anyone. eBay have a fantastic free cash flow which is how they funded PayPal’s growth over the past decade and whilst all that cash makes them attractive it also gives them a certain amount of clout to fight off unwelcome take over bids.

None of us knows the future, but like Mark @ Citi it’s fun to speculate… who would you like to see acquire eBay and why?