updated 9/8/2005 3:44:35 PM ET 2005-09-08T19:44:35

EBay Inc. is reportedly in talks to buy Internet-telephone company Skype Technologies SA for $2 billion to $3 billion — news that sent the Internet auction site's shares lower.

Skype co-founder and Chief Executive Niklas Zennstrom declined to comment Thursday on the Wall Street Journal report.

“There are different rumors every day,” Zennstrom told The Associated Press. “We don’t comment on rumors. When we make deals, we announce them.”

Hani Durzy, eBay’s spokesman, said his company also does not comment on rumors or speculation. Ebay had said in April it may forge partnerships with mobile-phone and Voice over Internet Protocol providers.

Skype’s free software lets people talk over the Internet using their computer and microphones. Calls to landline telephones are also possible at costs that, along with other low-cost Voice over Internet Protocol providers, are creating upheaval in the telecommunications industry.

Analysts have said that Skype, which is privately held, could fetch between $3 billion and $5 billion, largely because of its prominence on the VoIP field and because of its number of users. Skype has 53 million registered users and the company says more than 2 million people are using Skype at any given moment. Since it was introduced in 2003, the free program has been downloaded more than 151 million times.

Scott Devitt, an analyst with Legg Mason, said in a research note that eBay’s expertise in the online world, coupled with its own well-known brand name, could add Skype to its portfolio in a bid to gather new customers and explore new markets.

But Ovum analyst Mark Main said the report was surprising.

“Given that eBay has no related presence in the online personal communications market, I don’t see immediate synergies through such a move,” he said.

Earlier this year, the industry was abuzz after a British newspaper reported that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. had explored a $3 billion offer for Skype.

Under new Skype services announced Thursday, companies that want to provide on-demand news services, weather or traffic updates or even language lessons could make the content available to Skype users who simply dial them for the services.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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