Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that Carl Icahn has taken every opportunity to shake up Wall Street in 2013.
It’s no shock. He started the year armed with $US10 billion in cash.
The name “Icahn” has meant something on Wall Street since the 1980s, when he gained his reputation as a ruthless activist investor. He did it by taking a controlling interest in companies like TimeWarner, TWA, and Blockbuster.
Now, Icahn’s a billionaire.
And even in his 70s, Icahn shows no sign of slowing down. This year he’s made major money out of Netflix, revved up his feud with fellow hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, and picked a fight with Apple.
Expect more next year.
After brief stints at med school and the army, Icahn joined legendary mutual fund manager Dreyfus & Co.
He'd take a controlling stake in a firm and force extreme changes in the company's structure (like spinning off different units). He forced some firms to pay him 'greenmail' money to keep him away.
Google 'Icahn' and any year, and you get something juicy.
After six decades on Wall Street, the number of firms in which Icahn has owned a stake or served on the board is staggering:
It should be no surprise that a man of his stature has made some enemies. In his case, it's hedge fund superstar Bill Ackman.
The feud between Ackman and Icahn dates back to 2004. One of the weirdest things about it? It all started over only $US4.5 million.
In 2003 Bill Ackman's first hedge fund, Gotham Partners, had just blown up and he was being investigated by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The investigation was eventually dropped, but this definitely wasn't the best time in Ackman's career.
He needed to do a deal. Specifically, he wanted to sell Hallwood Realty, a company whose stock was trading about $US60 a share but Ackman believed it was worth $US140. So he called Icahn.
To make sure everything was on the up and up, Ackman included some legal provisions in his contract with Icahn. First the contract stipulated that if there was any legal trouble, the loser would pay the winner's legal fees. Second it said that if payment was delayed, Icahn would owe Ackman a lot of interest.
In 2004, Hallwood merged with another company, for $US137 a share. That meant Icahn made some good money on the deal, so Ackman called him for Gotham Partners' cut.
Icahn said he wouldn't pay, but a Court decided against him in 2011 and he ended up paying Ackman $US9 million.
'I'm telling you he's like a crybaby in the schoolyard. I went to a tough school in Queens, you know, and they used to beat up the little Jewish boys. He was like one of the little Jewish boys crying ...'
And on Ackman's pledge to give proceeds of his latest short, Herbalife to charity, Icahn said: 'He talks about charity. That's complete bullshit!'
'The guy is a shakedown artist,' Mr. Ackman sneers. 'His word is worthless.'
More recently, Icahn has targeted companies remotely, causing mayhem in their shares through Tweets.
With one Tweet in August announced a new stake in Apple, he caused a huge spike in the companies' shares.
An October Tweet in favour of a share buyback only spurred a 1.75% gain.
That philanthropy -- and a legendary wit -- explain why ultimately, people usually end up falling for the kid from Queens. Check out his stand up below.
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