Carl Icahn Can Now Sell Herbalife Shares But Probably Won’t

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When activist investor Carl Icahn entered into the debate over Herbalife Ltd (NYSE:HLF), it was clear that yet another brawl between him and Bill Ackman was kicking off. We’ve heard that Ackman moved to cover part of his short position on the stock, which he took about a year ago. Now Icahn will be able to completely exit Herbalife and the controversy surrounding it, if he chooses to do so. However, it sounds like he might not want to.

Carl Icahn’s restrictions on Herbalife sale now over

Icahn holds a 17% stake and 17 million shares of Herbalife Ltd (NYSE:HLF). His lock-up to sell his shares of the company expired after the volume-weighted average price passed $73, which it did this week, hitting a 52-week high. The lock-up would have expired regardless of that on Feb. 28.

D.A. Davidson & Co. analyst Timothy S. Ramey notes that Icahn would be subject to all other restrictions on insiders at the company. This means he won’t be able to buy or sell during windows which are closed to insiders. Those windows would include if the company was either working on some kind of deal or had any information about the status of the re-auditing process. Ramey believes one of these two situations is occurring right now, thus preventing Icahn from selling. However, he said he didn’t have any knowledge of Icahn’s intentions other than that Icahn “seems to think the company is well-managed and the stock is cheap.”

The analyst reiterated his Buy rating and $92 per share price target.

Icahn may not exit Herbalife

Duane D. Stanford, Saijel Kishan and Leslie Patton of Bloomberg Businessweek reported on Thursday that Icahn doesn’t have any plans to exit Herbalife Ltd (NYSE:HLF). That word came from Herbalife itself, which said it spoke with Carl Icahn, who said it has “no present intention to sell.”

Kyle Bass of Hayman Capital sees catalysts ahead, which may be another reason Icahn might not want to sell. For example, he said after Herbalife’s re-auditing is done, it will be able to borrow 2.5 times its EBITDA. The company could then repurchase “a lot of stock.” Bass appears to agree with Ramey in thinking that the re-auditing process could be finished within the next 60 days.

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