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EBay may buy Internet phone firm Skype: Report

EBay is in talks to acquire Internet-telephone company Skype Technologies SA, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

tech reviews Updated: Sep 08, 2005 16:45 IST

EBay Inc is in talks to acquire Internet-telephone company Skype Technologies SA for between $2 billion and $3 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said the deal would represent a dramatic shift in strategy for the world's largest online auction site.

The talks are at a sensitive stage and could fall apart, according to one person briefed on the matter, the Journal said.

An eBay spokesman declined to comment and Skype officials could not be reached for comment, the newspaper said.

Luxembourg-based Skype, whose software allows consumers to make free telephone calls around the world over the Internet, has been in discussions with other technology companies, but none has led to a deal.

As its core business matures, eBay is searching for new product categories and international markets, the report noted. The company has made a string of acquisitions and investments over the last year and a half to enter markets such as rental-property listings, online classified-ad listings and comparison shopping.

The person familiar with the situation told the Journal that eBay was keen on adding services that make it easier to buy and sell goods online, as it did when it acquired the electronic-payment processing service PayPal in 2002.

The San Jose, California-based company is also interested in entering new businesses that could open up ways for the company to generate revenue, such as pay-per-call Internet telephony, the newspaper report said.

First Published: Sep 08, 2005 16:45 IST