Bill Ackman resumes feud with nemesis Carl Icahn after Hindenburg report
May 24, 2023 | 21:01
Bill Ackman turned the knife into old rival Carl Icahn on Wednesday with a broadside attack that questioned the valuation of the famous activist investor’s flagship firm, whose company has become the target of short-seller Hindenburg Research.
In a withering and lengthy Twitter post, Ackman wrote that he was “fascinated” by the situation between the short seller and Icahn Enterprises ( IEP ), while noting that the company̵[ads1]7;s premium had been sustained by a large dividend.
“The return is generated by returning capital to outside shareholders, which in turn is financed by the company selling shares to investors,” Ackman said, adding that the system is highly dependent on “the maintenance of the premium and the tranquility of Icahn’s margin lender(s).”
Ackman, founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, said the situation had put Icahn’s fund at risk.
“$IEP reminds me a little bit of Archegos where the counterparties were comforted by the fact that each of them had relatively smaller exposures to the situation,” Ackman said, referring to Bill Hwang’s firm that exploded in 2021.
“All it takes is for a lender to break ranks and liquidate shares or try to hedge before the house collapses,” he added. “Here the patsy is the last lender to liquidate.”
Shares of Icahn Enterprises have fallen more than 50% since the Hindenburg report was published on May 2.
The stock fell more than 13% on Wednesday, hitting its lowest level in more than 14 years.
Icahn has personally lost $15 billion – down from $25 billion to $10 billion.
The scathing Twitter post stunned Icahn, The Post has learned.
“I don’t know what to do with this,” Icahn told The Post shortly after the tweet was published.
Icahn, 87, declined to elaborate on why Ackman would make such a public attack, suggesting he might issue a statement later.
A spokesperson for Bill Ackman’s fund Pershing Square Capital Management declined further comment.
Ackman ended the tweet by referencing one of Icahn’s favorite sayings: “If you want a friend, get a dog.”
Then the Icahn nemesis took it a step further: “During his great career, Icahn has made many enemies. I don’t know if he has any real friends. He could use one here.”
The short seller report pointed out that the current dividend yield for Icahn’s firm is among the richest on Wall Street at 15% – and argued that it “is completely unsupported by IEP’s cash flow and investment performance, which have been negative for years.”
Icahn has vowed to fight back against Hindenburg, who accused IEP of overvaluing its holdings and relying on a “Ponzi-like” structure to pay dividends.
Icahn has called Hindenburg’s report “self-serving” and reiterated his defense of the company.
“If you’re going to be bothered by this, you shouldn’t be in this business,” Icahn told Bloomberg on Tuesday.
On May 10, IEP said it had been contacted by US prosecutors and had a surprise quarterly loss in the first quarter.
The bad blood between the moguls goes back two decades to a dispute over a 2003 deal involving Hallwood Realty.
It was raised in 2013 when Ackman and Icahn got into a now infamous feud on CNBC, with both men hurling insults. Ackman lost money on his short $1 billion bet against Icahn’s Herbalife.
“This is not a guy who keeps his word. This is a guy who takes advantage of little people,” Ackman said of Icahn at the time.
The two apparently buried the hatchet a year later when they were photographed hugging at an investor conference.