Those who follow Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) for the drama it brings to Wall Street, would know that Vanity Fair did an interesting piece on the many eccentricities of Bill Ackman, the leading man on Herbalife’s short side. For the Carl Icahn fans who thought the 77-year-old investor did not receive due publicity for his long position in Herbalife, here is some good news. Forbes is printing an in-depth story on Icahn in its April 15 issue. The post is more focused on Carl Icahn’s current warfare at Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) and his other proxy battles instead of just Herbalife. The most striking (if not unsettling) feature that sticks in from Forbes’ piece, by Steven Bertoni, is Carl Icahn’s cover photo in a white beard. Pehaps Icahn’s changed look could help to soften his otherwise menacing visage that scares even the toughest executives on the Street.
On the subject of Bill Ackman, Icahn said that he has a tendency to get nasty about his wins and does not know how to win gracefully, in his words, “Ackman will never be able to do this [win gracefully].” Icahn has repeatedly said that he is not in Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) to get revenge on Ackman but he admitted in the interview that torturing him makes it more enjoyable.
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Forbes’ piece also discusses several other conquests of Icahn, CVR Energy, Inc. (NYSE:CVI), Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and the profitable railcars that he owns, that can cover the distance from Manhattan to Ohio. Read the full story here.
According to the story, Carl Icahn currently has such a firm base of permanent capital that he can write a $10 billion check without selling anything. Now that is dangerous news for all those companies who are hoping to scuttle past Icahn’s ferocious brand of activism unnoticed. Icahn’s power, when he is waging proxy wars comes from his independence, while other hedge fund managers like Dan Loeb and Bill Ackman are answerable to their investors and partners; Icahn cut himself loose in 2011 when he returned the money of outside investors. Icahn Enterprises LP (NASDAQ:IEP) trades publicly with $24 billion in AUM but Icahn himself operates independently through his own investment pool when he is shaking down companies.
Icahn’s investment funds have returned 12 percent through March 13, according to Steven Bertoni. His outstanding returns and menacing attitude have given him the cult status among activists. His latest target is Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) whose founders desperately want to take the company private. Smelling an opportunity, Icahn not only bought a major stake in the troubled PC maker he also put up a bid, which is higher than any other competing ones.
Just as short sellers are criticized for moving markets on their wishes and generating negative publicity, some critics label Icahn’s brand of activism as extortion. Icahn’s response to such allegations is predictable, the interview notes, he slams his critics as being “dead wrong”.