Billionaire investor Carl Icahn wants to go down in history books as someone who changed the rules of corporate governance and made management accountable.
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In an interview with FOX Business Network’s Neil Cavuto on Tuesday evening, Icahn discussed ending a buyback fight with Apple (AAPL), recent market volatility and the nation’s debt.
“I’m not going anywhere … I haven’t sold a share, nor do I intend to,” Icahn says, weighing in on aggressive stock buybacks by the iPhone maker.
Icahn announced plans on Monday to drop his non-binding proposal to persuade Apple to repurchase $50 billion of its own stock. His decision comes after a pair of influential proxy firms urged investors to vote down Icahn’s proposal on Feb. 28, and just days after Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the tech giant repurchased $14 billion of its shares following a post-earnings slump last month.
Icahn told Cavuto “Apple is one of the cheapest stocks around,” comparable to stocks like Netflix (NFLX) and Chesapeake (CHK). He said Cook agreed that the consumer electronics giant was “very undervalued” and praised the CEO for being a “great guy” and “great operator.”
However, he said while shareholders do like the management in the case of Apple, “for the last five years Apple has spent over $18B in research and development, but a lot of that hasn’t been seen yet by the shareholders.”
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When discussing his investment strategy, Icahn dismissed not interfering in companies for the sake of not having them think in the short-term, saying “if the guy’s losing a fortune,” why not encourage spending?
Regarding the Volcker rule, Icahn says he's fine with it. "I think what they should do is go back to Glass-Steagall," he said, "Where, hey a bank is a bank is a bank, and they shouldn’t be trading the market."
He also affirmed his hope that eBay (EBAY) will spin off PayPal, saying Ebay has done well in the past few years because it’s a good business, but PayPal “is in a position that you have to worry about it.”
On the topic of the economy, Icahn expressed disillusionment with President Barack Obama’s efforts to revive it. And while he said former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke “did a great job,” he said the current “injection of capital” is sort of like "a heroin" that affects the credibility of the American dollar, asking what would happen if others start speculating how good is its value?
“You can’t keep printing it forever,” Icahn said. “Money is a commodity.”