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Carl Icahn and Hank Greenberg don’t play golf. And they don’t like executives who do. On Wednesday we went to the Wall Street Journal’s Deals and Dealmakers conference, and while everyone else was frantically scribbling down what Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said about globalization—hint: he’s for it—we found ourselves more interested in the slightly less, well, earth moving details.
Golf—arguably the most popular pastime in America—didn’t score well with two headliners.
“I hate golf,” former AIG chairman Greenberg told the assembled crowd of investment bankers. “I play tennis. It doesn’t take long. Then I get back to work.”
After his talk we asked Greenberg about the popularity of golf among corporate executive.
“A lot of people like to get away from their work,” he said. “You have to wonder about whether they like what they’re doing.”
Icahn, the legendary corporate raider turned shareholder activist, was even more dismissive of golf. For him golf players symbolized the kind of clubby, chummy corporate executive he thinks is dragging down American business.
“These guys would rather play golf, slap each other on the back,” he said. “I want a guy running a company who sits in his tub at night thinking about the challenges he faces. The guy who can’t let it go. The focused guy.”
Yesterday we noted that Carl Icahn is not just short golf. He also tried to short Blackstone just after it’s IPO.