CARL ICAHN SAYS HE MAY HAVE MADE A MISTAKE TRYING TO BREAK UP TIME WARNER, BUT HE HAD THE LAST LAUGH BY MAKING $300 MILLION -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY ON CBS
Mega-investor Carl Icahn says he may have been wrong to try to break up Time Warner, but despite his mistake, he had the last laugh by making $300 million on the company. Icahn talks to Lesley Stahl about his battle against Time Warner and his aggressive investment strategies that tend to lift the price of stocks in a 60 MINUTES profile to be broadcast Sunday, March 9 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Icahn's very public battle in 2006 to reshape the media giant ended in defeat when the Time Warner shareholders voted to support company CEO Richard Parsons instead of his break-up plan. But Icahn, who purchased a huge stake in Time Warner, doesn't see it as a defeat. "It's a little bit of he who laughs last," he tells Stahl. "Maybe I made a mistake, but I made $300 million on it. So, is that too bad?...So I guess I was wrong," he jokes.
His critics say he cares only about the bottom line and ignores a company's products and people. Icahn sees it differently, saying that his tactic of pressuring companies to make changes that boost the stock price are a wake-up call that will help America's companies be more competitive in the cutthroat global economy. "I do care about the people...but I care about it in a macro way because I see our country going off a cliff. Okay? And I feel bad about it," he tells Stahl.
His reputation for pumping up the value of companies has led to a phrase that describes that Midas touch: the "Icahn lift." The latest example of this is the computer software company BEA Systems, in which Icahn was a major shareholder. When the company's competitor, Oracle, came looking to buy BEA, Icahn coerced it to increase its bid, bumping up the price of BEA stock. Says Icahn, "I just figured it out. I mean I took a risk, but hey, how about the other shareholders? All the shareholders made... If you add up what they made, you're talking two billion, three billion [dollars]."
Icahn says he made another $300 million on the BEA deal.
The 72-year-old billionaire used to be called a "corporate raider" for his aggressive tactics, but more recently has preferred the euphemism "shareholder activist." There is no difference, says Icahn, when pressed by Stahl, saying he has been doing the same thing since the 1980s. "I haven't changed at all....I'm still doing the same thing," he says. "I go in, buy a lot of stock in an undervalued company. It helps the other shareholders a great deal."