U.S. News

Icahn on his legacy—planting activist funds

Icahn: We see things boards don't

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he aims to help plant activist funds by backing new activist investors.

"Activists are so important, and there are bright young guys who need backing for that," he said in an Interview with CNBC's David Faber. Activist investors need staying power and a "fairly good bankroll," he added.

When pressed to say how much he'd like to invest in seeding new activist funds, he said, "We have so much cash around.... Even if we invested $1 billion, or $100 million, it would be extremely immaterial."

Icahn went on to say activist investors perform a service because poor corporate governance poses a problem to the common "economic society." He also linked shacky corporate management to larger economic issues such as unemployment.

CEOs whose firms have poor earnings have no businesses getting huge bonuses, Icahn added. "If he was an average worker, they might've fired him. Why don't we make this guy accountable?"

Carl Icahn
David Grogan | CNBC

"Some of them are good guys, but they have no one to hold them accountable," he said.

According to the billionaire, the role of an activist investor is to backstop boards of directors at troubled companies, adding that management is sometimes thankful for his help after the fact.

Icahn recently called a truce with the executives of eBay, after trying for months to nab two seats on the company's board of directors and persuade the company to spinoff its PayPal service to unlock value. When abandoning the effort, he called the deal a win-win and praised eBay CEO John Donahoe's passion for the business.

In exchange for Icahn's cooperation, eBay agreed to name former AT&T CEO David Dorman as an independent director.

—By CNBC's Karma Allen