EBay is said to be near sale of enterprise unit for $900 million

Michael J. de la Merced
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EBay is close to selling its Enterprise unit for roughly $900 million to a consortium led by the private equity firm Permira, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

A deal could be announced as soon as Thursday, said the person, who declined to be named because the discussions are confidential. The final details for a sale have not been ironed out, the person added.

A spokeswoman for eBay declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Permira. The talks to sell the Enterprise unit to Permira were earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Any deal would come on the eve of eBay's split into two entities, with the company set to spin off its PayPal payments unit from its online marketplace business. EBay is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Thursday, its last financial report before officially spinning off PayPal on Friday.

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As part of the separation, eBay cut jobs and signaled that it was exploring finding a buyer for its Enterprise unit or was considering a possible initial public offering of the business. EBay Enterprise is a warehouse and logistics unit for third-party sellers that eBay acquired in 2011 for $2.4 billion; at the time, the business was known as GSI Commerce.

When announcing the deal in 2011, John Donahoe, eBay's chief executive, said he was acquiring GSI Commerce in reaction to the shifting retail landscape.

"The boundary between offline and online commerce is coming down at a stunning rate," he said at the time, creating a "multichannel environment" that is changing the way retailers do business and how they reach their customers.

Mr. Donahoe is stepping down as chief executive once the spinoff of PayPal is complete. Devin Wenig, who has led eBay Marketplaces for the past three years, will be the chief of that business. Dan Schulman, a former American Express executive, will lead PayPal after the split.