Carl Icahn has taken to Twitter again and once again is slamming Bill Ackman, although this time there’s a second victim: The New York Times. Just a short while ago he tweeted:
NYT’s thesis that Ackman’s actions prove something is wrong with activism is specious. His actions prove only something is wrong with Ackman
— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) August 15, 2013
“NYT’s thesis that Ackman’s actions prove something is wrong with activism is specious. His actions prove only something is wrong with Ackman.”
Which article Carl Icahn is talking about?
Although there is some question about which article he’s talking about, it may be this one: “A Wall St. Brawler’s Winning Qualities Also Play Out in Defeat,” which was written by Michael J. De La Merced and Stephanie Clifford and posted on the paper’s DealBook blog.
Ackman’s history as an activist investor
The authors run through Bill Ackman’s failures as an activist investor, particularly in connection with his latest adventure with J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP). There’s one paragraph in particular that Icahn may have taken issue with.
“The fiasco may highlight not only the flaws of Mr. Ackman’s approach and his force of personality,” the authors wrote. “But also the limits of what shareholder activists can achieve. Though many of these investors have grown bolder in recent years, taking on bigger targets and winning, being the loudest voice inside and outside the boardroom does not always promise success.”
Ackman isn’t the poster child for activism
Of course many media outlets, including ValueWalk, refers to both Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn as “activist investors.” Both Ackman and Icahn tend to be very public with their thoughts and use the power of the press in an attempt to get what they want. But one thing seems pretty clear from Icahn’s tweet today.
He doesn’t want Ackman to be the person everyone thinks about when activism is mentioned. When the term “activist investor” is looked up in the dictionary, he doesn’t want Ackman’s photo to be there. In other words, he sees what Ackman does as being a very poor form of activism.
Icahn has made no secret of how much he dislikes Ackman, so he certainly wouldn’t enjoy being put in the same camp as Ackman. And he clearly sees plenty wrong with Ackman’s actions, although he sees them as being a sign that something’s wrong with Ackman himself and not with activist investing, which Icahn himself also engages in.