Oliver Stone shot his famous film “Wall Street” under the working title “Greed.” the prototype of the main character Gordon Gekko is believed to be a famous raider, greenmailers and billionaire Carl Icahn. The parallels are obvious – it is next to impossible to find a greedier person in the stock market for the last 40 years. But pathological greed is not the only reason that Carl Icahn, “an exchange shark with sharp teeth” disembowels companies. When there are so many pompous fools who think they are great managers, it a sin not to use it – at least in order to teach them a lesson.
Carl Icahn was born in New York City in a middle class family in 1936. He entered Princeton University, received a scholarship, and graduated in 1957 with a degree in philosophy. In 1961, Icahn began his career on Wall Street, and in 1968 he founded the brokerage firm Icahn & Co. He began operations on corporate takeovers in the late 1970s, and came into Big League raiding TWA in 1985. He is known as a strictly tough negotiator and a clever strategist, whose persistence and personality traits often distract opponents.
With a considerable fortune, Icahn has become a major philanthropist, particularly with regard to donations to his alma mater, Princeton University. correspondingly, he has received several awards for civil work and contributions to public health, medical research and education charities in New York.
Nevertheless, he is still an actively working financier. In February 2007, Icahn gave an interview to Time Magazine on the occasion of the 71st birthday. When asked about retirement, he replied: “A few managers have already offered to pay for a party on the occasion of my retirement. But I’m just a guy who grew up in Queens and loves to compete. I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life in Florida, playing golf. “ Icahn has created a team of two dozen assistants who help him look for targets and go to the corporate crusades, and he is likely to continue his active investment activity.
Wilbur Ross, a renowned investor, a longtime Icahn’s friend, describes him as “the most aggressive person I know … He is especially good at terrorizing people and making them vulnerable.” For many corporate executives, this phrase accurately describes the Icahn’s business model and investment style.
Icahn’s strategy includes selecting a company that, in his opinion, is poorly managed and whose stock price is traded below fair value. He thrives when the market is experiencing downward trends; when everyone else is selling, he starts buying. He buys enough shares to become one of the owners and to lobby for a position on the company’s board of directors.
As a rule, his first requirement is to dismiss the managing director and often to split the company into several parts for sale. Wall Street professionals say that in most cases he is successful, since he seems intimidating and inflexible.