Carl Icahn – the renowned activist investor behind numerous incendiary letters, a series of market-moving tweets and one historic on-air brawl – is coming to Canada.
What's in store for Talisman Energy Inc.? A look at some of Mr. Icahn's recent high-profile bets shows that the 77-year old has a large toolbox when it comes to forcing change at companies, and making money for himself in the process.
The move: Mr. Icahn buys $1-billion (U.S.) of Apple stock in August and announces via Twitter that the stock is "extremely undervalued." On October 1, he tweets that he met Apple CEO Tim Cook for a "cordial" dinner where he pushed for the company to buy back $150-billion of stock.
The payoff: Yet to be determined. Both Tweets produced surges in Apple's stock price. Overall, since Mr. Icahn revealed his stake in the company, its shares are up 4 per cent. The activist investor has said he and Mr. Cook will continue their discussion later this month.
The move: Early this year, Mr. Icahn joins forces with a major investor in Dell Inc. to try to block the company's founder, Michael Dell, from taking the ailing technology company private. Mr. Icahn is vociferous in his opposition to the buyout. He claims Mr. Dell is trying to hoodwink shareholders and likens the company's board to a totalitarian dictatorship.
The payoff: By Mr. Icahn's standards, this one is a bit of a dud. The agitation by Mr. Icahn and his allies forced the company to postpone a vote on the transaction numerous times. But in the end, Mr. Dell and his private-equity partner won approval from shareholders after raising their bid slightly. Mr. Icahn stood to reap $70-million from the battle royale, the Wall Street Journal reported last month. That's a tidy profit, but not a grand slam – read on.
The move: After Bill Ackman, a rival activist investor, announces a bet against the seller of nutritional supplements – likening it to a pyramid scheme – Mr. Icahn decides to take the opposite side. He snaps up the company's shares and starts a public brawl with Mr. Ackman, culminating in a live, on-air confrontation that should earn a spot in the greatest hits of financial television.
The payoff: A cool half-a-billion dollars on paper. Since Mr. Ackman revealed his short position late last year, Herbalife shares are up 58 per cent. "As you know, I don't like Ackman," said Mr. Icahn in an interview with Fox Business Network in August. "But I like him now. Anybody who makes me $500-million, I have to like."
The move: In October 2012, Mr. Icahn publicizes a sizeable stake in the then-struggling video-streaming firm. He pushes the company to sell itself and assails moves by the board of directors aimed at preventing him from acquiring more stock. But after meeting with the firm's CEO and viewing some of its new original programming, he mutes his criticism and becomes a convert to the corporate strategy. The company's earnings exceed expectations in the first quarter of this year.
The payoff: More than a billion dollars and counting in paper profit. Netflix shares are trading at around $318 – up from $69 last October.