For a few moments, Wednesday looked like a typical day for activist investor Carl Icahn: Take a stake in a company and watch the shares fly as soon as the public becomes aware of the move.
Shares of eBay rose as much as 10 percent, to about $60, in after-hours trading Wednesday after the company announced that Icahn had taken a 0.82 percent stake. Icahn had an idea for unlocking value in the online marketplace business: spinning off the faster-growing PayPal operation.
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But the stock began to fall before long and by Thursday morning had lost most of its gains, trading up just 0.75 percent at $54.80. The trouble was that Icahn's suggestion was probably less feasible than some of his typical proposals.