EBay is to spin off Skype after concluding that the online call service does not fit with its existing businesses.
The company says it intends to complete a sale of shares, known as an initial public offering (IPO), by the middle of next year, although the specific timing of the IPO will be based on “market conditions”.
Some analysts have suggested that Skype could justify a value of more than $2.5bn. It was bought by eBay for $2.6bn in 2005.
In a statement, the eBay says although Skype “is a great stand-alone business” it has “limited synergies” with its other businesses, namely the auction site eBay and payment service PayPal.
“We believe operating Skype as a stand-alone publicly traded company is the best path for maximizing its potential. This will give Skype the focus and resources required to continue its growth and effectively compete in online voice and video communications,” it says.
It has been reported that the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis were looking to raise the money to buy the service back from eBay with private equity backing.
Skype has about 405 million registered users and reported $550m in sales last year.