Ecommerce giant eBay is mulling a spin-off of its online payments business PayPal as early as next year, according to reports.

EBay is understood to have told potential candidates for the vacant PayPal chief executive role, a post that former boss David Marcus left in June, about a possible spin-off of the payments business, tech news website The Information reported.

EBay’s shares jumped 4.6% yesterday to $55.89 in New York.

A PayPal spin-off would mark a u-turn for eBay. Chief executive John Donahoe has resisted demands by activist investor Carl Icahn to sell off the payments service, saying PayPal was integral to eBay’s business.

Icahn eventually backed off from his demand in April but still supports a PayPal spin-off in the future.

Some investors believe that PayPal could attract more retailers if it was not under the ownership of eBay, which some of its targets would class as a rival.