Carl Icahn Is Nearing Another Landmark Deal. This Time It’s With His Son.


At 83,

Carl Icahn,

the billionaire financier legendary for waging guerrilla warfare with company targets from TWA to Dell, lastly has a succession plan. It’s a little bit difficult.

Fed up with New York, Mr. Icahn says he’s shifting his hedge fund to Miami and laying the groundwork handy it over to his son, Brett.

Mr. Icahn says Brett is the “leading candidate” to take over the agency—as soon as Mr. Icahn is able to let go, which he doesn’t appear to be simply but. “I’m not going to give up making the real decisions,” Mr. Icahn says. “I’m still in charge, but he’d get a piece of the action.”

Brett, 40, is prone to rejoin

Icahn Enterprises

IEP zero.62%

LP within the coming months after a greater than three-year hiatus. He would run a small new funding fund. For over a yr on and off, father and son have been negotiating an association that has already stretched to a roughly 90-page contract. Nothing is official but and neither seems to be in any rush, partly as a result of Brett is bearish available on the market and hasn’t seen many good funding alternatives with shares close to all-time highs.

His return would reunite two males who’re opposites in some ways. Where Carl is outspoken and operates on intuition, Brett is extra laid-back and keen on spreadsheets. Brett likes chess, whereas his father prefers poker. Carl has by no means been afraid to go on TV to make his views heard, whereas Brett has operated underneath the radar for a lot of his profession. The elder Mr. Icahn has lengthy hedged his portfolio with vital quick positions—bets that inventory costs will lower which have the potential for infinite losses— whereas Brett typically avoids them.

Brett Icahn, proper, is the “leading candidate” to run Icahn Enterprises as soon as Carl Icahn, left, is able to let go.



It’s clear the elder Mr. Icahn has no plans to decelerate anytime quickly. He envisions maintaining his current charge of roughly 5 new activist campaigns a yr and says nothing compares to the joys of being immersed in a negotiation. By most accounts, he’s nonetheless mentally sharp, capable of zero in on inconsistencies in an opponent’s reasoning or rattle off the mechanics of a fancy commerce.

He spent his personal birthday weekend earlier this yr urging

Caesars Entertainment Corp.

to place itself up on the market. Caesars had spurned takeover approaches Mr. Icahn wished it to take extra severely, believing the on line casino firm could be higher managed within the palms of a rival and that shareholders, fairly than the board, ought to have the ultimate say. Caesars in June struck a roughly $9 billion deal to promote itself to

Eldorado Resorts Inc.

and its shares soared.

“I like what I do. I’ve been doing more lately,” Mr. Icahn says in certainly one of a collection of interviews over the previous a number of months. Still, he’s planning for the long run and has additionally permitted his daughter, Michelle, to assist a director produce a documentary on his life for a cable channel.

He says he has no plans to retire, however that when he does, Brett—lengthy anticipated to be his inheritor obvious—is the most effective candidate he is aware of to take over the job.

Carl Icahn is just not afraid to make use of public appearances as a option to apply extra stress on his company targets. Here he speaks in New York to CNBC’s Scott Wapner on the 2016 Delivering Alpha Conference.


Heidi Gutman/CNBC/Getty Images

“I don’t think anybody can fill his shoes the way he fills them,” Brett says. “But I look forward to continuing to make him a lot of money and continuing to develop my career.”

Brett is a extra data-driven investor who facilities choices round discovering shares that look like undervalued and shopping for them on the proper time out there cycle. He has a better time than his father spending time exterior of the workplace and is commonly touring the world along with his girlfriend or honing his chess recreation.

Brett deliberate to affix his father’s agency proper after graduating from Princeton University however pushed again his begin date to spend time in South Africa engaged on a film in regards to the collapse of its forex and later launched a videogame publishing firm with a pal. After becoming a member of Icahn Enterprises he steered the agency towards worthwhile investments like one in

Apple Inc.,

which Mr. Icahn admits he wouldn’t have thought of as a result of it didn’t have as sturdy of an activism angle as traditional and was already richly priced.

“The activism formula is a great formula for increasing shareholder value. My father has proven that,” Brett says. “But I don’t think you absolutely need to have activism for there to be a good risk-reward ratio in an investment.” That makes him extra open than his father to corporations the place he thinks the administration is doing a very good job.

What they do share is a cynical—and generally adolescent—humorousness and a fascination with philosophy and technique. They each cite traces from Sun Tzu’s e-book “The Art of War.”

Icahn Enterprises, which has inhabited the 47th ground and a part of the 46th ground of the famed

General Motors

constructing in Midtown Manhattan for roughly 20 years, is now in transition. In current weeks, yellow sticky notes had been affixed to pick out items of paintings that may head to Sotheby’s as an alternative of constructing the journey south. (Unmarked objects included two of Mr. Icahn’s favorites: One is a portray by the French artist Meissonier depicting Napoleon, whose story Mr. Icahn says “typifies the problem with hubris.” The different is a small tin signal that exhibits a person taking part in poker and reads “Bluffing: A Pair of Balls Beats Everything!) The workplaces’ heavy material and tufted leather-based chairs, paying homage to a 90s-era boardroom, will quickly be carted out to make method for brand spanking new occupants.

Mr. Icahn, a lifelong New Yorker, captured Wall Street’s consideration within the 1980s as a company raider clashing with corporations like TWA. Over the years he refined his strategy and helped usher in a brand new type of investing often known as shareholder activism, alongside the best way drawing accusations that he was a company holdup artist. Mr. Icahn in 1985 started pushing for greater price financial savings and asset gross sales at TWA and later that yr gained management of the struggling airline. It continued to flounder, nevertheless, and spent a lot of the 1990s in chapter courtroom earlier than being acquired by American Airlines in 2001.

Carl Icahn captured Wall Street’s consideration within the 1980s as a company raider clashing with corporations like TWA. Here he speaks at a 1986 press convention in regards to the hiring of latest TWA flight attendants and supervisors to switch those that had gone on strike.


Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

In a courtroom deposition, Mr. Icahn as soon as described a confrontation with TWA’s CEO on the time, C.E. “Ed” Meyer, in a resort bar: “[Mr. Meyer] said, ‘All you want is a fast buck.’” Mr Icahn mentioned he then responded: “If we are psychoanalyzing each other, why don’t you admit…what you really care about is your job, and you are afraid I am going to take it away from you.”

Mr. Icahn’s ambitions at present are as massive as they’ve ever been, although his funding fund’s returns recently have been lackluster. In the previous a number of weeks alone, he has been busy on new campaigns and tried—unsuccessfully, thus far—to wrest energy from

Occidental Petroleum Corp.

’s board after it oversaw what he considers a reckless $38 billion acquisition.

As he has for many of his profession, Mr. Icahn eschews hands-on evaluation, preferring as an alternative to go along with his intestine. He boils his campaigns down to 1 or two alleged transgressions of chief executives comparable to extreme pay that he repeats — usually, loudly and on TV if vital — till they capitulate. Mr. Icahn has twice battled efforts by

Michael Dell

to rejigger possession of his eponymous pc maker, arguing final yr that Mr. Dell’s bid to take the corporate public by way of a fancy transaction amounted to an $11 billion seizure of worth from different shareholders. His complaints finally prompted the corporate to sweeten the deal.

Carl Icahn additionally clashed within the 1980s with Texaco. Here he seems at a 1988 Texaco stockholders assembly in New York.


Peter Morgan/Associated Press

Glued to his work for a lot of his kids’s upbringing, Mr. Icahn grew near Brett over weekend walks in Central Park or round Bedford, N.Y., by which he would lecture his son on funding concept and different matters. Brett was “like a sponge,” his father says. As Brett entered his teenage years, he and his father started taking part in chess. The two for years performed Sunday-evening matches, however they stopped a couple of yr in the past after Brett constantly gained, at occasions costing his father as a lot as $20,000 in misplaced wagers.

Mr. Icahn says he got here to understand he couldn’t compete with Brett. When he went to Brett’s 35th birthday celebration at his son’s Hell’s Kitchen condo in Manhattan, he met Brett’s Yugoslav superintendent. The man informed Mr. Icahn he have to be so pleased with his son, as a result of he’d by no means seen anyone work as onerous as Brett. Mr. Icahn, caught off guard, requested what he meant. The superintendent responded that each time he went to his condo, Brett could be learning chess video games not noted on tables, generally as many as three at a time. Brett additionally put in lengthy hours with a chess instructor.

Carl Icahn’s recreation of alternative is poker, whereas his son prefers chess. Here Mr. Icahn performs at a 2004 match in New York. “A good poker player has to be willing to take big gambles. A good chess player rarely takes a gamble. The great investor is somewhere in between.”


Mitchell Levy/Globe Photos/ZUMA PRESS

That stage of research by no means appealed to Mr. Icahn, who likes to boast about how he paid for a lot of his tuition at Princeton with poker earnings. “A good poker player has to be willing to take big gambles. A good chess player rarely takes a gamble,” Mr. Icahn says. “The great investor is somewhere in between.”

Brett labored for his father for roughly 15 years, beginning as a low-level analyst. He stepped away for the previous few however remained concerned as a marketing consultant and at the moment represents his father’s pursuits on the board of

Newell Brands Inc.,

the maker of Sharpies, Rubbermaid containers and Elmer’s glue. It’s a thus far money-losing funding that Brett has mentioned wasn’t his concept.

He beforehand had appreciable success operating a greater than $6 billion fund at Icahn Enterprises that averaged an annualized return of round 27% over seven years ending in 2016. He and his accomplice, David Schechter, gained recognition on Wall Street for prompting Mr. Icahn to make a massively worthwhile funding in Netflix Inc. The Netflix funding, which Mr. Icahn was initially skeptical of, finally made the agency a $2 billion revenue they usually every earned $280 million paydays on the finish of their run, equal to 7.5% of their good points over an annual return hurdle of four%.

In 2014, Brett and Mr. Schechter deliberate to start out their very own activist hedge fund with about $1 billion from the elder Mr. Icahn in a transfer that may have allowed them to maintain much more of their very own earnings, however negotiations fell aside.



Age: 83 Family: spouse, two kids, two stepchildren Education: Princeton University Investing type: primarily activist Personality: outspoken Wealth: $17.6 billion* Game Of Choice: poker Raised: Far Rockaway, N.Y. Notable Investments: Dell, TWA


Age: 40 Family: not married, has a girlfriend of greater than three years Education: Princeton University Investing type: activist and passive Personality: laid again Wealth: unknown Game Of Choice: chess Raised: New York space Notable Investments: Netflix, Apple

Source: Forbes journal (wealth)

At the brand new fund, Brett will probably be required to place a small proportion of his personal cash into every funding and is considering shopping for $25 million value of Icahn Enterprises shares. His father will seemingly have the ultimate say over investments underneath the association. (Mr. Icahn, whose private fortune Forbes journal pegs at almost $18 billion, doesn’t handle exterior cash anymore.)

The transfer to Miami, the place Mr. Icahn is already residing and the place the workplace will probably be opened in April, may assist ease Brett’s method again into the agency, although Mr. Icahn says that’s not what prompted it. Brett already spends a whole lot of time there along with his girlfriend—the mannequin and culinary scholar Erin Christoff— and their canine and plans to purchase a spot nearer to the corporate’s new digs. His sister, Michelle, and her husband, who works for the agency, additionally plan to maneuver to Florida with their two kids.

Mr. Icahn informed his roughly 50 staff in a observe final month that he’s shifting so he can take pleasure in “a warmer climate and a more casual pace year-round.” Mr. Icahn, who has lived in New York since he was raised in a modest house in Queens, says he has grown bored with the town’s crowds and excessive taxes. He insists the transfer wasn’t prompted by something greater than frustration with New York, a need to play tennis extra ceaselessly and the truth that the web has made it doable to do his work wherever. He has no fast plans to promote his Manhattan penthouse, primarily due to New York’s falling real-estate costs.

“New York isn’t what it was when I was young,” he says, including that he’s given loads to the town together with a faculty of medication at Mount Sinai Health System, a stadium on Randall’s Island and a number of constitution faculties bearing his identify.

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Most of Mr. Icahn’s longtime high lieutenants are anticipated to affix him in Miami, although he says a handful of different staffers gained’t. He is outfitting house in a contemporary workplace tower north of the town that he says isn’t actually his type and can seemingly appear to be the set of “Billions,” the TV present a couple of fictional hedge fund. It’s near his beachfront property on the unique Indian Creek island the place he and his second spouse, Gail, and their three canines are actually spending extra of their time.

His funding fund misplaced eight.eight% by way of the primary half of the yr, the latest interval for which ends are publicly accessible, and has had an annualized return of 5.four% since its 2004 inception. Mr. Icahn likes to level out that the fund solely accounts for a portion of Icahn Enterprises and that he closely hedges his bets, which mutes earnings. The remainder of the enterprise is a set of corporations he controls in areas like power, food-packaging and residential furnishings. Taken as an entire, Icahn Enterprises, which trades publicly, has posted returns of 1757% since its 2000 inception, together with dividend reinvestments, or 15.9% yearly. Nine of his activist campaigns have yielded earnings of greater than $1 billion.

The funding fund’s largest positions embody a greater than $1 billion stake in Occidental, whose languishing share value Mr. Icahn has been unable to spice up because it purchased Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in August. He has launched into a public marketing campaign in opposition to Occidental CEO

Vicki Hollub,

who he believes pursued the deal to fend off suitors of her personal.

A not often employed maneuver by Mr. Icahn to name a particular assembly of Occidental shareholders to attempt to change board members has stalled after he didn’t get holders of 20% of the shares excellent to affix the trigger. His subsequent main alternative to shake issues up is to launch a proxy struggle forward of subsequent yr’s annual assembly.

Mr. Icahn hasn’t managed exterior cash since 2011 and subsequently doesn’t have to fret about buyers getting impatient and presumably leaving, as most hedge funds do. He says that in contrast to lots of his friends, he has the luxurious of embarking on lengthy slogs like at Xerox Holdings Corp., which he and a accomplice took management of after scuttling its deliberate merger with

Fujifilm Holdings Corp.

Xerox’s inventory value has risen roughly 50% thus far this yr.

“The height of a deal for me, there’s nothing like it,” he says. “I really enjoy it.”

Write to Cara Lombardo at

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