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King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist

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The only biography ever written -- revealing the wildly successful career and the brilliant, eccentric and pugnacious personality of financier Carl Celian Icahn -- is now available in a new and expanded 20th anniversary edition. Chronicling the renegade capitalist's rise from lower middle class roots to the most powerful force on Wall Street and the most feared change agen The only biography ever written -- revealing the wildly successful career and the brilliant, eccentric and pugnacious personality of financier Carl Celian Icahn -- is now available in a new and expanded 20th anniversary edition. Chronicling the renegade capitalist's rise from lower middle class roots to the most powerful force on Wall Street and the most feared change agent in corporate America, King icahn is a unique and revealing look into the making of a massive American fortune. Written by CEO Mark Stevens--who as Carl's neighbor and tennis partner gained unprecedented access to Icahn for this uncensored and and unauthorized book--King Icahn; The Biography Of A Renegade Capitalist's 20th edition is now reissued with a never before told forward: The Battle To Publish This Book.


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The only biography ever written -- revealing the wildly successful career and the brilliant, eccentric and pugnacious personality of financier Carl Celian Icahn -- is now available in a new and expanded 20th anniversary edition. Chronicling the renegade capitalist's rise from lower middle class roots to the most powerful force on Wall Street and the most feared change agen The only biography ever written -- revealing the wildly successful career and the brilliant, eccentric and pugnacious personality of financier Carl Celian Icahn -- is now available in a new and expanded 20th anniversary edition. Chronicling the renegade capitalist's rise from lower middle class roots to the most powerful force on Wall Street and the most feared change agent in corporate America, King icahn is a unique and revealing look into the making of a massive American fortune. Written by CEO Mark Stevens--who as Carl's neighbor and tennis partner gained unprecedented access to Icahn for this uncensored and and unauthorized book--King Icahn; The Biography Of A Renegade Capitalist's 20th edition is now reissued with a never before told forward: The Battle To Publish This Book.

30 review for King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist

  1. 4 out of 5

    N

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Philosophy at Princeton - empiricist (like Soros). Was an options salesperson and helped to create transparency in pricing by publishing a weekly report of mids. He had a rich uncle who helped him get a seat on the NYSE and founded his own options brokerage. They tended to do arbitrage plays (Kinsley was the analyst). Basically Icahn made easy money in greenmail but a lot of hard earned money in takeover attempts and proxy battles that he needed to see to completion to make his future threats cr Philosophy at Princeton - empiricist (like Soros). Was an options salesperson and helped to create transparency in pricing by publishing a weekly report of mids. He had a rich uncle who helped him get a seat on the NYSE and founded his own options brokerage. They tended to do arbitrage plays (Kinsley was the analyst). Basically Icahn made easy money in greenmail but a lot of hard earned money in takeover attempts and proxy battles that he needed to see to completion to make his future threats credible. His negotiating strategy is to overwhelm and disorientate with multiple offers and scenarios having thought through most of the permutations beforehand. He's fairly indefatigable and relentless even to squeeze a few extra pennies in a transaction (possibly just his nature or to enhance his credibility). First raid came from customer order for options on a REIT (Baird & Warner), which traded at 8.50 but had a book value of $14 and liquidation value of $22. He launched a proxy war and won and then liquidated the assets. Second raid: Tappan. Buys the company and agitated to have it acquired - ultimately by Electrolux. Dick Tappan was so impressed that he decided to invest in Icahn's fund. Third raid: Saxon - buys shares in a cheap paper company and tries to get control. But after talking to employees/others in industry he gets cold feet and settles for a green mail payment after threatening to buy more shares and wage a proxy war. Fourth raid: Hammermill - another paper company he tried to sell, but basically ended up in a stalemate with management because he wasn't able to raise enough money to finish the raid. But he got his expenses reimbursed mostly and walked away with a 24% return. Easy green mail: Owens-Illinois, American Can, Anchor Hocking Marshall Field: management blocks a takeover attempt from another retailer - this blows up Icahn's merge arbitrage trade. Icahn buys shares to get control to try to force another sale. Management tries all legal means to stop Icahn but fail and so relent to a bid from Batus. At first Batus low balls at 25.50 even though the previous takeover offer was 42. Eventually Icahn sells at 30. Dan River: buys a textile firm at 12.80 (book value = 38) and tenders for the whole company. Management leads a buyout instead at 26.50 "In the beginning, I was playing poker...I didn't have the money to fight for the long haul - to pay the interest on the shares I held. If push came to shove, I would have had to find a way to protect my credibility but it never came to that because those companies didn't have the guts to really fight me." pg133-134 ACF - rail cars. automotive, energy equipment loses money after a cyclical downturn. Icahn buys at 32-41 when he estimates a liquidation of $60. Management also wants to do a LBO so stalls for time to line up financing while asking Icahn for a standstill while it searches for a buyer while giving Icahn a right to bid above. Eventually he buys ACF and sells off a division to help pay for the transaction. Cheesebrough Pond - Icahn gets management to hand over a US Open box and to buy a division of ACF on top of greenmail (at market price). Phillips - T Boone Pickens launches a raid but management pays him greenmail @53 and stock then falls to 40s (management has an offer @ 43). Icahn offers 55 and says he'll step aside if management's bid tops his. Icahn gets Drexel to write a letter saying that it was 'highly confident' that financing could be arranged for a LBO (Morgan Stanley, Phillips' banker, thought this was surely impossible). Phillips puts a poison pill in place though they lose in a proxy battle so are forced to up their bid and eventually reimburse Icahn's expenses ($30mio). Earns $50mio for 3mo of raiding. TWA - Icahn goes up against Frank Lorenzo, but uses the prospect of a union buster like Lorenzo to get major labor concessions. Icahn sees TWA as a cashflow machine, but obviously depreciation is very real and TWA eventually becomes a failed airline. However, Icahn was able to get his equity out after issuing some more debt. He resists investing much in the airline given the chronic overcapacity. He sells the Transatlantic routes to American but ends up in a battle over the underfunded pension that becomes a major liability due to his 80%+ ownership. He tries to get below this threshold but Congress (St.Louis) puts together a bill to target Icahn so that he could be on the hook for $1bio. However PBGC overplayed its hand and both labor and creditors ended up siding with Icahn rather than face bankruptcy and protracted legal action limiting Icahn's downside to a much smaller figure (100mio). Texaco - Icahn bought after the company got into trouble for acquiring Getty and in the process the other suitor Penzoil, which sued for $10.5 bio for 'tortious interference' Management wanted to hold out for a Supreme Court ruling rather than pay such a ridiculous sum. Icahn knows that Texaco shares are pricing in a large uncertainty for this legal liability. He buys shares off of a distressed raider for $29 and basically forces management to pay Penzoil a $3bio settlement. Post settlement, he then turns down Oxy (Hammer) who bids $55 for his shares. Icahn launches a proxy war but loses and after a stalemate with management, who pays out an $8 dividend after selling some divisions that Icahn would likely have sold anyway, Icahn sells his shares for $49. Total pnl: $500mio. US Steel - agitates for a split of the companies into steel and energy. Eventually he succeeds, but has a lot less leverage without Drexel to sponsor a junk bond financed takeover threat. Total pnl: 183mio. Al Kingsley also mentioned AT&T and GM as undervalued targets. Icahn knows the limits of his practices: "they'll hang us." (pg 170) "Icahn sees dozens of possibilities on a single screen. The mental agility that enables him to zigzag from C to F and back to R, leaves him opponents so thoroughly confused and frustrated they are on the verge of shorting out...people think they know what Carl's goal is when in fact he has no fixed goal." "Icahn creates a complex environment in which he can camouflage his strategy. What does Carl really want? Which direction is he headed in? By tossing out dozens of variables, he leaves everyone guessin." -pg 61 "Icahn prefers to confront transactions with a worst-case mentality. Before making a move, he surveys the chess board, asking himself, 'what is the worst thing my adversaries can do to me, and how can I protect myself on all flanks?' Always checking goals, weak points, and his leverage.'" - pg65 "Icahn will make dozen of simultaneous offers, some reasonable, others absurd." pg299 Things I didn't know.... "Delaware law required that a buyer with 15%+ stake had to rapidly boost his stake to 85% or else be barred from merging the company of selling its assets for three years." pg 263 "By owning 80% of TWA, Icahn was deemed part of a 'control group,' which made his other businesses jointly liable for the pension funding. 80% also being the threshold that allows him to have losses passthrough to his other corporations."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    This is described as "a new and expanded" edition, but it disappointingly still ends abruptly in the middle of the then-unfinished early-90s TWA battle. Rather than even finishing that story (the final line of the book is a twenty-year-old note that "At the time the book went to press, the terms of the settlement were announced but yet to be signed by all parties."), never mind adding anything of what happened over the next two decades, the "new and expanded" part seems merely to be a preface ab This is described as "a new and expanded" edition, but it disappointingly still ends abruptly in the middle of the then-unfinished early-90s TWA battle. Rather than even finishing that story (the final line of the book is a twenty-year-old note that "At the time the book went to press, the terms of the settlement were announced but yet to be signed by all parties."), never mind adding anything of what happened over the next two decades, the "new and expanded" part seems merely to be a preface about how Icahn had originally tried to block the publication of the book. At times it also reads surprisingly like a first draft of a self-published work, rather than a 20th Anniversary edition. The early chapters, setting out Icahn's early deals, flow well, but once we reach the more complex later deals, Stevens gets bogged down in much too much detail, and the book becomes somewhat of a slog at times. (It also seems like the copy-editor gave up at that point too: the second half of the book is riddled with typos, homophone errors, random capitalisation, run-on sentences, and even occasional places where entire lines seem to have vanished mid sentence.) Not sure I could ever actually recommend it to anyone, but I still mostly enjoyed it despite the many flaws.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Abdul

    Lessons Learned: In order to be a hardcore capitalist you need to possess a sound/brilliant mind and you need to be ruthless. Summary: Interesting book about one of US’s foremost capitalists. The book chronicles the rise of Carl Icahn through exploring some of the different deals he was involved in, mergers and acquisitions and the many raids on corporations during the money getting eighties. Fascinating yet interesting at the same time. Overall a good book that paints a vivid portrait of the man Lessons Learned: In order to be a hardcore capitalist you need to possess a sound/brilliant mind and you need to be ruthless. Summary: Interesting book about one of US’s foremost capitalists. The book chronicles the rise of Carl Icahn through exploring some of the different deals he was involved in, mergers and acquisitions and the many raids on corporations during the money getting eighties. Fascinating yet interesting at the same time. Overall a good book that paints a vivid portrait of the man while also detailing some of the inner workings of Wall Street.

  4. 5 out of 5

    BuenoBomb aka Andre Bueno

    Carl Icahn's biography is very well written and interesting to say the least. The author portrayed Icahn as a master negotiator, financial engineer, and an all around street smart money manager. I definitely look forward to rereading this book in a few months! Carl Icahn's biography is very well written and interesting to say the least. The author portrayed Icahn as a master negotiator, financial engineer, and an all around street smart money manager. I definitely look forward to rereading this book in a few months!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luke Durbin

    This was a most interesting listen, hearing the story of the beginnings of a fortune being built not through successful investing in the traditional sense, but through using the system of "corporate democracy" to take large positions in undervalued companies, hold their board's of director's hostage until they either gave him a seat on the board, bought him out or sought a white knight to buy him out. There aren't too many lessons to takeaway. Though, throughout the entire book you are in awe of This was a most interesting listen, hearing the story of the beginnings of a fortune being built not through successful investing in the traditional sense, but through using the system of "corporate democracy" to take large positions in undervalued companies, hold their board's of director's hostage until they either gave him a seat on the board, bought him out or sought a white knight to buy him out. There aren't too many lessons to takeaway. Though, throughout the entire book you are in awe of just what Icahn could achieve in a few mere months after taking a position and for that reason at times he comes across more of an anti-hero than anything. But that said, everything he did was within the rules of the game and was hard to disagree with his view that when management's interests aren't aligned to shareholders, they will defend their executive positions and pay packages before defending the ultimate rights of shareholders. My main gripe with the book is that because I got the audio, which was published in 2010, I didn't realise that the original book was published in 1993, meaning that there is a good 25 years of Icahn's career yet to be filled in. This is obviously not the author's fault, but nevertheless it rendered the book lacking in my view and 25 years on the book is a less valuable read now than when it was published.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sy. C

    Listened to the audiobook narrated by the author. Delivery was energetic, emotive and clear. Rich in details on the corporate activism Icahn is known for, essentially raiding companies' coffers for his own benefit (and to a lesser extent, other minority shareholders / arbitrage funds). When greenmail fell out of favor, he switched to arbitraging the difference between market and full "control" values by agitating for asset sales. His poor outcome on TWA outlines his far superior skill as a short Listened to the audiobook narrated by the author. Delivery was energetic, emotive and clear. Rich in details on the corporate activism Icahn is known for, essentially raiding companies' coffers for his own benefit (and to a lesser extent, other minority shareholders / arbitrage funds). When greenmail fell out of favor, he switched to arbitraging the difference between market and full "control" values by agitating for asset sales. His poor outcome on TWA outlines his far superior skill as a short-term arbitrageur than long-term business operator. The author provides useful context on the external conditions that made Icahn's success possible during the junk bond-driven LBO era of the 80's. All in all, an engaging, entertaining read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Boyarsky

    Truly fascinating biography of a brilliant financial giant! Beginning with his family life in Far Rockaway, NY and avoiding completion of medical school by joining army reserves and his life story gets better by the page. Mr Icahn, recognized many opportunities and took controlling interest in US Steel, TWA and some of the other most well known corporations in this country. It was a very good read and I am hoping the second volume will pick up where this one ends. I thank Patty A. for lending me h Truly fascinating biography of a brilliant financial giant! Beginning with his family life in Far Rockaway, NY and avoiding completion of medical school by joining army reserves and his life story gets better by the page. Mr Icahn, recognized many opportunities and took controlling interest in US Steel, TWA and some of the other most well known corporations in this country. It was a very good read and I am hoping the second volume will pick up where this one ends. I thank Patty A. for lending me her copy!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nam KK

    I would give the book 5 stars for the first part of the book - it is how a finance book should be written. The second part is more difficult to have a grasp on as deals were getting more complicated. I took 1.5 credit class on M&A quite a while ago, and still it is not easy to follow. I was thinking about giving the book four or five stars - I would be more comfortable if I could give it 4.5 star.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tirath

    Such a rubbish book. Badly written, dated, and even then, very empty on the editing front. Each episode, TWA, Philips Petroleum, USX - - - nothing tied up together in the end. All very disjointed. So I end the book, not knowing much about Icahn, nor knowing much about what really happened with these investments except for the fact that he made a lot of money by using greenmail. Note: TWA - - - stay away from airlines :)

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Skinner

    I learned a lot about M&A, spinoffs, restructuring, and other financial instruments used to create wealth in the 80’s that led to the crash in the early 90’s. Icahn is a fantastically brilliant mind and ballsy businessman, and I was helped to consider that capitalism is good but there should also be a sense of social responsibility, especially as a Christian. I would recommend this book to someone in finance or who enjoys finance.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark Kasson

    Love me some good M&A, distressed stories and this has that. Sheds some light on him as the investor and as the person, digging into his thinking and patterns. They can't all be winners and for Carl this is true as well. It doesn't cover all of his activities but it gives a feel for some of the big public ones. Love me some good M&A, distressed stories and this has that. Sheds some light on him as the investor and as the person, digging into his thinking and patterns. They can't all be winners and for Carl this is true as well. It doesn't cover all of his activities but it gives a feel for some of the big public ones.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Priit Rohumaa

    Quite an extraordinary capitalist. Known as a fierce fighter against corporations lazy managements who protect more their rights than shareholders. Taking enormous risks he has accumulated around 15$ billion net worth. Fun reading how he fights his proxy fights and presses corporate boards.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Yishen Kuik

    Very detailed history of Carl Ichan pre 2000s and gives you a good sense of the man.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason Orthman

    An excellent insight into the dealings and philosophy of Carl Icahn through the detailed description of a number of his deals in the 1980s. Compelling read. (Kindle).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ethan Lambert

    It is good book about Carl ICAHN. Unlike other titans aka masters of the universe who made Their money in 80's there isn't a lot of books about him. Very impressive character indeed. It is good book about Carl ICAHN. Unlike other titans aka masters of the universe who made Their money in 80's there isn't a lot of books about him. Very impressive character indeed.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Piccatto Jr

    Timeless read. Very well written.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Solorzano

    Well written but not great. It was an interesting look into Carl's life and how he conducts business. Worth reading at the library. Well written but not great. It was an interesting look into Carl's life and how he conducts business. Worth reading at the library.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike Adeleke

    Amazing read about the greatest man in activist investing. Car Icahn, while by no means a "nice" man, was a man who pioneered a form of investing that while railed on in the media is extremely valuable to the economy. Corporate governance at a substantial amount of companies has very little accountability. In many ways, these people simply keep a company humming along collecting perks and profits while their performances may not always warrant this. And to boot, their lack of equity brings up a Amazing read about the greatest man in activist investing. Car Icahn, while by no means a "nice" man, was a man who pioneered a form of investing that while railed on in the media is extremely valuable to the economy. Corporate governance at a substantial amount of companies has very little accountability. In many ways, these people simply keep a company humming along collecting perks and profits while their performances may not always warrant this. And to boot, their lack of equity brings up a famous Charlie Munger quote, "beware of perverse incentives". When one looks at the logic what good activists do is prune companies. They find companies that are undervalued and engineer them to reach their potential. It is very hard to argue with that in many cases.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sanford Chee

    Another instance where fact can be more colourful than fiction. This the story of Carl Icahn the real life "Gordon Gekko" of Wall Street fame. A look back into the deal making frenzy of the 80s with a whole cast of bigger than life characters. Carl Icahn's twitter https://twitter.com/Carl_C_Icahn?lang=en Carl Icahn the comic on his negotiations w/ Joe Jamil over the Pennzoil settlement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEc8X... Another instance where fact can be more colourful than fiction. This the story of Carl Icahn the real life "Gordon Gekko" of Wall Street fame. A look back into the deal making frenzy of the 80s with a whole cast of bigger than life characters. Carl Icahn's twitter https://twitter.com/Carl_C_Icahn?lang=en Carl Icahn the comic on his negotiations w/ Joe Jamil over the Pennzoil settlement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEc8X...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kriti

    Some interesting lessons here sprinkled with fun stories of how Carl Icahn became the biggest baddest activist investor today

  21. 5 out of 5

    Diego Gomes

    Great book Icahn is fascinating, the book tells it all. Solid reading for anyone with fiduciary responsibility. If you are on a board seat, read this.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alexander

    A masterpiece.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Diego Leal

    Icahn is a beast. His negotiation style is impressive.

  24. 4 out of 5

    ruskin

    Kindle version has grammar errors and the last chapters seem rushed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy Bond

    Really douschy writing - but interesting for anyone who likes M&A

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  27. 4 out of 5

    Craig Watson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Nightingale

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ally

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