Longtime corporate raider Carl Icahn, who famously tried to break up Time Warner in 2006 and takeover Lionsgate in 2010, announced a succession plan Thursday where his son Brett to succeed him as CEO of the family’s investment business — in seven years.
During that time, the younger Icahn will join the board, manage a portfolio of assets “subject to certain veto rights by Carl Icahn” and purchase $10 million worth of depositary units in the publicly-traded company from his father. He’ll become chairman of Icahn Enterprises and CEO of the investment business “following the end of the 7-year term of the Agreement or earlier if Carl Icahn should so determine,” the firm announced.
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Brett’s been a portfolio manager with the company since 2014. Now, along with his father, he’ll oversee three new managers who will work in the Investment segment: Gary Hu, most recently an analyst with Silver Point Capital; Steven Miller, most recently an analyst in the Distressed and Special Situations group at Blue Mountain Capital Management; and Andrew Teno, most recently a director at Fir Tree Partners.
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Icahn Enterprises is focused on sectors from energy and automotive to food packaging, metals, real estate and home decor. But in his long career the raider was a frequent dark shadow in media boardrooms. He spearheaded a campaign to split Time Warner into four companies — at the time they were AOL, TV and film, publishing, and cable. A settlement was reached, but the company ended up breaking apart anyway over the ensuing years. Years later, he acquired a large stake in Liongsgate. He bought a chunk of MGM too and tried unsuccessfully to orchestrate a combination.
His philosophy has been that corporate managers are often either incompetent or do not have the best interests of shareholders at heart. CEOs tend to disagree. He acquired 10% of Netflix in 2012 when the stock hit a rough patch and exited three years later with a hefty profit. Icahn credited Brett with the investment. He subsequently made a big bet on Apple.
President Trump had floated Icahn as a potential Treasury Secretary but Steven Mnuchin got that job. Icahn ended up serving as an economic advisor to Trump but resigned in 2017 ahead of a critical New Yorker article alleging conflict of interest.
The succession plan, drawn out as it may be, is not a total surprise. Last year, the Queens native and longtime New Yorker moved himself and his firm to Sunny Isles Beach near Miami for, he said, a more relaxed lifestyle.
Icahn, 84, came to notice in the 1980s when he took over TWA, a deal that didn’t end well, and has since gone after dozens of companies from U.S Steel to Texaco. The tough raider has a funny bone and was caught on stage several times at Caroline’s comedy club in NYC. Below, see him riffing on the tortuous Texaco-Penzoil-Getty battle.
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