Putting to rest rumors of an impending sale of its online phone service unit Skype, eBay confirmed plans Tuesday to spin off Skype through an initial public offering (IPO) to take place during the first half of 2010. Although Skype—the largest international voice carrier in the world—is expected to continue its rapid pace of growth and to double its yearly revenues by 2011, officials concede that Skype has not fit well strategically with eBay, which paid $2.5 billion for Skype in 2005 in hopes of using the service to facilitate communications between buyers and sellers on the eBay website. As late as last week, the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, were reported to be in negotiations to repurchase the unit with the backing of a consortium of private equity firms. Sources indicate, however, that eBay rejected the deal as the proposed purchase price fell far below eBay’s target. Announcing the spin-off plan, eBay CEO John Donahue termed Skype as “a great stand-alone business with strong fundamentals and accelerating momentum” that, nevertheless, “has limited synergies with eBay and PayPal.” Declining comment on eBay’s recent effort to sell the unit, Donahue declared: “we believe operating Skype as a stand-alone publicly-traded company is the best path for maximizing its potential.” Sources connected with eBay also said the specific timing of the IPO would depend upon market conditions and on the outcome of an intellectual property suit—pitting Skype’s founders against eBay—that is pending in the British court system and that is expected to be resolved by the end of this year.