Carl C. Icahn began his career on Wall Street in 1961 and has become one of the most well-known and influential investors in America. In 1968 he formed Icahn & Co., a securities firm that focused on arbitrage and options trading. In 1978 he began taking very substantial and sometimes controlling positions in individual companies. In these investments, he was generally an activist.
Over the years, these positions included RJR Nabisco, Texaco, Phillips Petroleum, Western Union, Gulf & Western, Viacom, Uniroyal, Dan River, Marshall Field, E- II (Culligan and Samsonite), American Can, USX, Marvel, Revlon, ImClone, Fairmont, Kerr-McGee, Time Warner, Yahoo, Lions Gate, CIT, Motorola, Genzyme, Biogen, BEA Systems, Chesapeake Energy, El Paso, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, KT&G, Lawson Software, MedImmune, Dell, Herbalife, Navistar International, Transocean, Take-Two, Hain Celestial, Mentor Graphics, Netflix, Forest Laboratories, Regeneron and Mylan Labs.
As a leading shareholder activist, his efforts have unlocked billions of dollars of shareholder and bondholder value and have improved the competitiveness of American companies. He and his affiliated companies currently own businesses in a wide range of industries, including real estate, telecommunications, transportation, industrial services, oil refining and manufacturing. Companies in which he and his affiliates currently own majority positions include American Railcar, XO Communications, PSC Metals, Tropicana Entertainment, Viskase Companies, CVR Energy, WestPoint Home, Icahn Enterprises LP and Federal-Mogul. He and his affiliated companies also own stakes in many other public companies. Icahn Enterprises LP is Icahn's flagship company through which he has acquired many of these positions.
Icahn's investment approach relies on his independent and contrarian views and focuses on undervalued companies. Simply stated, Icahn's investment philosophy is based on the belief that, with many exceptions, the companies of America are run by mediocre CEOs and boards who are unwilling to hold management accountable. Icahn generally invests in these companies and attempts to bring about change to enhance shareholder value. Icahn believes that following this activist methodology is mainly responsible for the compelling record of performance mentioned above. However, he also invests in companies that he believes have great potential or will benefit from secular changes about to occur in their industries. Generally, he believes these companies have excellent management.
Icahn, 80, is a graduate of Princeton University, with a degree in philosophy. He has many charitable interests, focusing primarily on medicine, education and child welfare. He is a significant benefactor to, and serves as a trustee on the boards of, the School of Medicine and the Hospital at Mt Sinai. He funded the Icahn Medical Institute Building at Mt. Sinai Hospital and the Institute of Genomics, a genomics and multiscale biology research program, at the School of Medicine. In 2012 he made a substantial pledge to the School of Medicine. In honor and recognition of $200 million of financial support by him, the School of Medicine was renamed the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, and the Institute of Genomics was renamed the Icahn Genomics Institute. The School of Medicine also established an Icahn Scholars Program to attract a world-class group of physician-scientists to the school.
In the area of education, Icahn established seven Icahn Charter Schools located in The Bronx, New York, an area marked by poverty and high crime rates. The mission of the schools is based on the belief that all students deserve a rigorous academic program through which they will increase their capacity to learn. As a result, the students will graduate armed with the skills and knowledge to participate successfully in the most intense academic environments and will have a sense of personal and community responsibility. At Choate Rosemary Hall, a premiere boarding school located in Wallingford, Conn. where he previously served on the board of trustees, he endowed the Icahn Scholars Program, which has awarded a large number of scholarships to underprivileged students, and funded the Carl C. Icahn Science Center, Choate Science Building, designed by I.M. Pei. He also sponsored a genomics laboratory at Princeton University, which was named the Carl C. Icahn Laboratory for Princeton University's Institute for Integrated Genomics.
The Children's Rescue Fund, which was founded by him, built Icahn House in the Bronx, New York, a 65-unit complex for homeless families consisting of single pregnant women and single women with children, and operates homeless shelters located in New York City. He has also made significant donations to the Randall's Island Sports Foundation, where he previously served as a trustee, for the construction of Icahn Stadium, a track-and-field stadium located on Randall's Island. In addition, he has served as a trustee on the board of Lincoln Center.