“That I’m not going away…That I’m comin’ here, I’ve done it, and there’s no way I’m leaving till they do something,” are the words of the well-known corporate raider Carl Icahn. Ever since his 1985 takeover of TWA, he has cemented his reputation as one of the biggest and serious players in the investment arena. Particularly opinionated, he stands today as a champion for “shareholder democracy,” and is even dubbed Forbes 400’s richest “shareholder activist.”
A New Yorker to the core, Carl Ichahn was born in Brooklyn but was eventually brought up and studied in Far Rockaway, Queens. Upon gaining admission to the prestigious Princeton University, Carl Icahn decided to major in Philosophy from which he graduated in 1957. For two years, he also attended the New York University School of Medicine, but realised his passion lies elsewhere. After serving some time with the army, he came back to New York and hit the ground running with his career at Wall Street.
The year 1961 saw Carl Icahn with Dreyfus & Company as a registered representative. Harnessing his expertise in building businesses, securities arbitrage and buyouts, he secured a New York Stock Exchange seat a mere seven years after. It was in the same year that brokerage firm Icahn & Co. Inc. would be created. In 1978, Carl Icahn began strategically serving critical top positions in several enterprises such as: RJR Nabisco, Western Union, Viacom, Marvel, Phillips Petroleum, Kerr-McGee, Time Warner and Texaco.
Among Carl Icahn’s most prominent roles include chairing Bayswater Realty & Capital Corp. (1979), ACF Industries Inc. (1984), American Railcar Industries (1994), ImClone Systems (2006), and Federal-Mogul (2008). Presently, he is also Icahn Enterprises’ chairman. With all his financial success, he emerged as the 20th in rank for Forbes 400 Richest American in 2008 with his $12 billion net worth.
Carl Icahn has also been actively involved in other worthy causes through Icahn Charitable Foundation, Children’s Rescue Fund, and Foundation for a Greater Opportunity, which he and wife Gail built. Philanthropic milestones such as establishing three charter schools in the South Bronx, sponsoring Choate Rosemary Hall’s Icahn Scholars Program, and New York City’s homeless shelter, Icahn House East, are among Carl Icahn’s contribution to the local community.
Other recipients of his generosity include Lincoln Center, Mount Sinai Hospital’s Icahn Medical Institute, and Randall’s Island Sports Foundation. From 2002-2006, he donated a total of $77 million and in 2007-2008, he added another $7.8 million to that sum.