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Old Enemies Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman Make Peace

It just might be easier to make peace on Wall Street than in the Middle East as feuding corporate titans Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman have seemingly mended fences.

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Carl Icahn Screen shot - - 05 -10 -carl-icahn-crash-stock 320X Bill Ackman

For years now the renowned corporate raider 78 year old Carl Ichan has insisted that he would never do business with the 48 year old hedge fund manager who recently made news with his crusade to topple multi-leveled marketing company Herbalife, Bill Ackman. Mr. Ichan actually once said of Mr. Ackman that “he would not invest with Ackman if he were the last man on Earth.”

The disparity began in 2004 over a law suit involving shares in Hallwood Realty which Bill Ackman sold to Carl Icahn for only $80 a share when he believed them to be worth as much as $140. Mr. Ackman claimed that the agreement included a promise that Mr. Ichan would split any profits on the stock if he sold it within three years and he did just that for $137 a share. When Ichan did not share any of the profits, Ackman sued and won $9 million.

When Ackman shorted Herbalife, Ichan said that it was a bad move and then made a long term investment in the company. The two then famously traded insults with each other on a live broadcast of the financial cable network CNBC.

But a thaw in their relationship began when Carl Icahn spoke to CNBC in defense of Ackman’s purchase of 9.7% of Alergan Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Botox, knowing that it was in play for a purchase by Valeant Pharmaceuticals While some experts have criticized the move, Ichan told CNBC, ”I don’t even think it’s immoral. I mean, he’s doing something for the company. I mean— I, frankly, never thought I’d be defending him. But I think he’s— I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We have our differences, but I never said he’s not a smart guy.”

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal Mr. Ackman apparently phoned Mr. Ichan last Thursday and said to an assistant, “I am calling to forgive Carl.” Mr. Ichan reportedly returned the call and told his enemy that, “it is a blessing to forgive.”

No this was this was not an early Yom Kipur pardoning of sins ritual between the two Jewish men who had most recently taken opposing sides on Mr. Ackman’s dealings with Herbalife. The investors are said to be teaming up on activist investments in which the investor attempts to enact broad changes in a company. As Ackman said, “There is a much greater possibility that we are on the same side than the opposite.”

The two men, however, are still at odds over the question of Herbalife. It remains to be seen if they can put aside the fact that they are both taking active and very opposite positions with that company.




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