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Icahn: Blustery, Savvy Raider or Mediocre Investor?

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Old 07-01-2008
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Icahn: Blustery, Savvy Raider or Mediocre Investor?
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Few companies are willing to get down and dirty in a schoolyard brawl with Carl Icahn.
Even when Icahn implied that **** Parsons, then the chief executive of Time Warner, was an "idiot," the media conglomerate held back from returning fire.
Yet Yahoo, in defending how it handled merger discussions with Microsoft, is taking aim at Icahn just where it hurts. Icahn, Yahoo suggests, is simply not a very good activist investor.
In a presentation to its shareholders, Yahoo lists 15 companies that Icahn invested in over the last three-and-a-half years and sought to change its strategy or gain representation on its board. Only three of the 15 have had gains in their stock prices since Icahn started to stir things up.
Among the notable losers are WCI Communities, which is down 90 percent with Icahn as chairman, and Motorola, down 50 percent, although Icahn has two of its 12 board seats. The big winner is BEA Systems (up 40 percent), where Icahn agitated successfully for a sale to Oracle, albeit at a price significantly less than what BEA ultimately received.
For Yahoo, Icahn has "an ill-defined plan" that consists entirely of selling the company to Microsoft, Yahoo says.
And such a sale is not happening, and that is all Microsoft's fault, Yahoo contends. The software giant was "unresponsive and inconsistent" in negotiations before it walked away, Yahoo says.
"This is simply revisionist history," a Microsoft spokesman told the Associated Press.
With its stock drifting down toward $20 and just a month before its annual shareholder meeting, Yahoo is pressing hard to make its case that it didn't blow a chance to get shareholders a rich premium. Investors disappointed with Jerry Yang and Yahoo's board may vote for Icahn's slate in protest.
And what does Icahn think of Yahoo's attack on his investing record? He did not respond immediately, but had promised last week on his blog that he would be discussing Yahoo "shortly."


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