Carl Icahn has worn many hats in his day: corporate raider, activist shareholder and now soon-to-be special adviser to President-elect Donald Trump on matters of financial regulation (which comes with its own red baseball cap). But before he does that, Icahn is kicking off 2017 by tying up some loose ends on the M&A front: On Tuesday morning, the 80-year-old billionaire again raised his takeover bid for auto-parts maker Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp. in hopes of finally sealing a deal.
The funny thing is, Icahn already owns 82 percent of Federal-Mogul, so this transaction has dragged on for far longer and received more attention than it probably should have. But it's just so classic Carl. Last February, he offered to buy out Federal-Mogul's minority investors at $7 a share. They resisted, so he inched the price up a couple times and then said in November that he was considering walking away because his bid at the time of $9.25 was already a "very full price."
Well, it couldn't have been that full -- Icahn's now cranked it up to $10, or $304 million. And that is a whopping 43 percent more than his initial offer. He wouldn't be willing to pay $10 apiece if he didn't think he'd still make a lot of money from this deal, and he also knows this company better than most given his long history with it. It just goes to show what a lowball bid the original $7 was.
Federal-Mogul isn't the most attractive takeover target. It has a ton of debt and posted losses on a GAAP basis in three of the past four years. But Icahn, who is currently worth $20.6 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has an interest in this industry because he's been rolling up auto-service and car-parts chains. About a year ago, he won a bidding war for Pep Boys and he also owns Auto Plus. Moreover, Icahn's stake in Federal-Mogul goes back years to the company's bankruptcy days, when he bought bonds that later converted into equity.
At $10, this may finally be a done deal. Federal-Mogul's shares traded down to that level on Tuesday, signaling that traders see a high likelihood that it gets done before the tender offer expires Jan. 17.
It may be his pal Trump's name on "The Art of the Deal," but Icahn has his crafty side, too.
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