By David Benoit
The activist investor ended his letter to Dell shareholders on Monday by asking them to follow his handle @Carl_C_Icahn. Mr. Icahn told MoneyBeat he’s hoping to turn his account into a movement to fight the corporate governance issues he believes were showcased at Dell.
“The reason I’m excited by Twitter is I believe, finally, there is a platform so that shareholders will understand how really dysfunctional our corporate governance system is,” Mr. Icahn said in an interview. “Hopefully if we are able to build a large enough following this will be a meaningful platform to get the attention of lawmakers to change some of these of these horrendous laws.”
Dell may be his exhibit A, the subject of his very first tweet back in June.
The 77-year-old investor spent the past six months battling against what is now a nearly $25 billion buyout, saying the board created a process that blocked out shareholders and other bidders in favor of Michael Dell and Silver Lake.
“When you go to Sotheby’s to bid on a painting, the auctioneer doesn’t point out that the painting is all scratched up and offer me $25 million not to bid,” Mr. Icahn said in the interview, alluding to a board offer to pay him $25 million for due diligence if he agreed not to launch a proxy fight. “I can certainly understand Michael Dell wanting to buy this company at a bargain price, but what I can’t understand is the action of the board, refusing to make this a bidding contest to benefit shareholders.”
Mr. Icahn, 77, has spent dozens of years fighting what he believes are bad boards and deals, though he isn’t shy about saying profits form the basis of his investment ideas. He is not in this to be altruistic.
He says he’ll continue exposing and commenting on issues with his Twitter account, which has over 76,000 followers.
But those who follow him on Twitter don’t need to be purely altruistic. Mr. Icahn last month revealed his latest big investment on his Twitter feed: A stake in Apple Inc.
The stock jumped afterward and is now trading at $506.82, up 8.5%, or nearly $40 a share, since before he appeared. That’s created nearly $36 billion in market cap for the technology giant.