Carl Icahn

Last Thursday, in an interview with CNBC, Carl Icahn said something so shocking that the only logical explanation for the words passing his lips was that he’d been drinking (which he had). With cameras rolling, Icahn told David Faber, of fellow hedge fund manager Bill Ackman: “We have our differences, but I never said he’s not a smart guy. I think the concept of this [bid with Valeant to buy Allergan] is good. I hope it works out better for him than Herbalife did, and I think it will…There’s nothing wrong with making a bid for a company and using someone else’s funds.” That Icahn had anything remotely nice, much less complimentary, to say about Ackman was so surprising because since 2005, following a disagreement over an investment, the men have shared feelings for one another that can be summed up thusly: they hate each other. You know this, I know this, the maître d’ at Marea knows this. And yet there Icahn was, saying nice things about a guy who in the past he’s called, via press release, a shitty investor for whom he has no respect; who he’s described, on CNBC, as “the crybaby in the school yard“; and who he’s sworn, in at least one interview, that he’d never invest with again. (For his part, Ackman has called Icahn a liar who “takes advantage of little people,” whose offer of friendship he didn’t have to think twice about before turning down.)

What made Carl change his tune? Was it more than just the booze? For now, that remains unclear. What is clear is that someone was watching and was touched by the comments, martini-fueled or not. Because less than 48 hours later, this happened: Read more »


Last night, in an interview with CNBC, Carl Icahn had this to say about fellow hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and his recent bid with drugmaker Valiant Pharmaceuticals for Botox maker Allergan:

“We have our differences, but I never said he’s not a smart guy. I think the concept of this is good. I hope it works out better for him than Herbalife did, and I think it will…There’s nothing wrong with making a bid for a company and using someone else’s funds.”

Those of you who’ve kept up with Icahn and Ackman’s relationship know that Icahn saying he never said Ackman’s “not a smart guy” represents a complete 180 from his comments about the Pershing Square manager in the past. Those include but are not limited to:

  • To the New York Times: “How many times have judges been wrong? How many people have gone to the death chamber because they’re wrong? Ackman is dead wrong.”
  • On BloombergTV: “…it’s no secret I don’t like Ackman”
  • Also on BloombergTV: “I have no respect for him and I don’t like him and that’s not a secret.”
  • In the same interview on BloombergTV: “I dislike the guy, I don’t respect him, I’ve done business with him and he wasn’t forthright…that’s my opinion.”
  • Via press release: “To get the record straight, I never asked Ackman to be my friend.”
  • In the same press release: “Bill Ackman has recently stated ‘Carl Icahn is a great investor.’ I thank him but unfortunately I cannot return the compliment.”
  • On CNBC: “I was minding my own business in 2003 and I get a call from this Ackman guy and he’s like the crybaby in the school yard. I went to a tough school in Queens and they used to beat up the little Jewish boys and he was like these little Jewish boys crying saying the world was taking advantage of him. He was almost sobbing. And he’s in my office talking about this Hallwood deal and how I can help him. It’s like in the old song, I rue the day I ever met the guy.”
  • In the same interview on CNBC: “He’s the quintessential example of if you want a friend, get a dog.”
  • CNBC: “I wouldn’t invest with [Ackman] if [he] were the last man on earth.”

So to hear Icahn not only describe Ackman as not not smart but to compliment his “concept” was more than a little bit surprising. But why the about face? It’s possible it had something to do what happens at 2:58 here: Read more »

The activist investor won’t beat you up like he did to the kids back in Queens, sayeth eBay CEO John Donahoe. Read more »

Attention eBay: Uncle Carl can be all sweetness and light, if you just do what he tells you to do. It might also help if you could get Bill Ackman to short your stock. Read more »

Lions Gate Entertainment presents a how-to guide to eBay and anyone else engaged with the aged corporate raider: Keep exactly as many generously-termed convertible bonds around to hand off to a “friendly shareholder” in your hour of greatest need and any unwanted attentions can be vanquished. Sure, you might have to pony up a few million dollars and accept a slap on the wrist if anyone should find out, but you’ll get to keep your company. Read more »

Uncle Carl has been railing about eBay’s refusal to do what he wants it to do for seven whole weeks now, with new missives every other business day, plus countless tweets and television appearances, about how very badly run is a company that he owns 2% of. Perhaps he realizes that not everyone will wish to read the tens (hundreds? We’ve lost count.) of thousands of words he’s penned on the matter. So allow him to make his case in 23.

CARL ICAHN ON EBAY: CONFLICTS OF INTEREST! OPTIONS BACKDATING SCANDAL! INVESTMENTS IN DIRECT COMPETITORS! DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATION! THESE ARE “WORLD-CLASS” DIRECTORS?

OK, maybe a few more: Read more »

  • 11 Mar 2014 at 6:12 PM

Recommended Reading From Herbalife

Perhaps you noticed that The New York Times spilled a very great deal of ink on Bill Ackman’s crusade against Herbalife on Sunday. In short, sayeth the Grey Lady: Ackman spent $1 billion betting that Herbalife was a fraud and has spent the ensuing 15 months or so asking people in power to prove his hunch.

Well, if you hadn’t noticed, Herbalife would like you to take a peek. Read more »