EBay Inc Chief Executive Meg Whitman preparing to retire

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It seems that the beginning of 2008 proves to be a most fruitful period for famous retirements. After Bill Gates "withdrawal from the active life at Microsoft", it is Meg Whitman's turn, the namesake of one of the best American poets, Walt Whitman, but more important than that, the EBay Inc. Chief Executive.

EBay Inc Chief Executive Meg Whitman, one of the most powerful women in business, is preparing to retire from the online auctioneer, The Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday. A departure by the Silicon Valley veteran would come as one of the Internet's best-known companies tries to recapture the runaway growth that made it a household name connecting buyers and sellers through online auctions.

Whitman, 51, would also be following her own advice that no CEO should stay in the same job for more than a decade, a philosophy that reflects the unassuming character that made her popular among the sellers who use eBay's auction site. John Donahoe, the 47-year-old president of eBay's auction business unit, is the leading candidate to succeed Whitman, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified sources.

The report said Whitman's departure could be announced within weeks, although it added that the situation "remains fluid." Whitman recently began delegating more daily responsibilities and is completing succession plans, it said. EBay spokesman Hani Durzy declined to comment.

Shares of eBay fell 4 percent to $27.14 in morning trade on the Nasdaq amid a global stock market sell-off tied to fears the U.S. economy is sinking into recession. Analysts have said eBay's business could prove durable in a downturn, as consumers use its sites to hunt for bargains.

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