I survived Carl Icahn as a shareholder: Hain CEO
Activist investor Carl Icahn made $430 million when he recently cashed out of his three-year investment in Hain Celestial Group, Irwin Simon, CEO of the natural and organic foods company, told CNBC on Monday.
"[Carl] just got out in the last two weeks," Simon reflected in a "Squawk Box" interview. "I'll never forget the day I got the call, 'Hi this is Carl Icahn, I just filed a 13D.' He bought the stock in the low-$20s." The billionaire investor bought "seven million shares, spent over $100 million," Simon said.
(Read more: Icahn: Market is fully valued, but Apple is a buy)
"I had every banker call me, every lawyer, 'You got to fight with him. You've got to get a poison-pill. You can't give him board seats,'" Simon recalled. "You know what? Go run the company. How many companies go out there and fight with Carl and spend … millions in shareholder money?"
"At the end of the day," he continued, "Carl is somewhat like the U.S. government—he's got time and money."
During the Icahn years, Hain stock increased more than 200 percent—now trading in the high $70s. "Hain today is positioned better than it was when Carl got in … because of the awareness of healthy eating," Simon said. "The stock has performed."
"I will call him a friend," Simon said, "even though Carl would say, 'If you want a friend, get a dog.'"