After studying philosophy at Princeton University and dropping out of medical studies, Carl Icahn began a career as a stock trader in New York in 1961.
In 1968, he bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and traded options and other securities. Icahn’s uncompromising investment style served as the inspiration for the unscrupulous character of Gordon Gecko in the 1987 film “Wall Street”.
In the 1970s, he began to shift his focus to the hostile takeovers of large companies, earning him his reputation as a corporate raider.
His strategy involves picking out companies which, in his opinion, are poorly managed – resulting in their stocks being undervalued on the stock exchange. After picking a target, the companies stocks are bought up on a massive scale – preferably at falling rates. The purchase of a large portion of company shares earns him a seat on the company’s board of directors.
Once settled into the board, he often demands the replacement of company management and a restructuring of the company.
In the past, Icahn often carried out these aggressive maneuvers in the face of climbing stock prices, but was still able to sell his shares at a profit.