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.
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.
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.