Icahn, Ackman Hug At Hedge Fund Conference

Jul 17 2014 | 1:46pm ET

Two months after ending a decade-old feud, Carl Icahn and William Ackman met on stage yesterday—and embraced.

The hug, at the CNBC Delivering Alpha Conference, marked a public end to what had been a very public fight, exacerbated a year-and-a-half ago by Ackman’s much-publicized $1 billion short against nutritional supplements company Herbalife.

“We had a business dispute 10 years ago,” Ackman said. “It took us eight years to work it out.”

CNBC spent about three weeks laying the groundwork for the on-stage chat, which featured the men agreeing that they don’t like Martin Lipton, a top anti-activist corporate lawyer, any more than he likes them, or corporate boards of directors, for that matter. They continued to agree to disagree about Herbalife, with Icahn saying little and Ackman saying he “would love to get Carl out of this stock.”

Icahn did expound on several other matters, notably his concern about the economy, which he said “doesn’t seem to be doing all that great.”

“You have to worry about the excessive printing of money,” he said of the Federal Reserve. “It’s artificial what’s going on.”

And, of course, he spent time on his favorite subject: Bad corporate management. “The problem we have is that the wrong guys are running these companies.”

“We’re going to have morons running these companies,” he continued. “I’m having dinner with a lot of these guys afterwards…. They’re not bad guys.”

He also briefly—and lightly—touched on a federal insider-trading probe involving him and golfer Phil Mickelson.

“I have to admit I’m getting a little tired of my friends, if that’s the operative word, sending me e-mails for free golf lessons,” he said.

Ackman and Icahn weren’t the only bold-faced names to take the stage yesterday: One of the former’s allies on Valeant Pharmaceutical International’s bid for Allergan Inc., John Paulson, said Allergan shares could double if the deal—opposed by Allergan—goes through.

The Paulson & Co. chief said the $53 billion merger could push Allergan shares from $121 to $220. Paulson owns a 2% stake in the Botox-maker.


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