December 4, 2012 8:40 pm

Icahn drops attempt to acquire Oshkosh

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Carl Icahn has failed in his second bid to gain control of armoured truckmaker Oshkosh .

The veteran corporate raider on Tuesday said he was withdrawing his $32.50r per share tender offer, after only 22 per cent of shares were tendered. He had said he would only proceed with his bid if he gained 25 per cent of outstanding shares.

“Therefore, we are returning all tendered shares and we will not extend the offer,” Mr Icahn said. None of the tendered shares had been purchased.

This is the second time Mr Icahn has attempted to wrest control of Oshkosh from management. He recently waged an unsuccessful proxy fight in an attempt to elect a slate of his preferred candidates to the board of directors, but was defeated in January.

Mr Icahn remains the company’s largest shareholder, with a 9.5 per cent stake.

Shares in Oshkosh have not traded above $32.50 for nearly a year and a half. Other shareholders, however, are unswayed by Mr Icahn’s plans to break up the company.

On Tuesday, shares in Oshkosh were down another 5 per cent in midday trading, to $28.63.

Mr Icahn has had other successes with auto companies this year. In October, he gained a seat on the board of Navistar, a truckmaker he had said could be merged with Oshkosh. He later backed off the notion of a tie-up between the two companies, instead saying Oshkosh should sell or spin off its mobile lifting equipment unit.

Oshkosh is among the Pentagon’s largest suppliers, making blast-resistant vehicles for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Profitability has waned in recent years as the wars wind down, however, and the company faces further hurdles with the threat of sequestration looming over all military spending.

The defeat caps a mixed year for Mr Icahn, who has gone after lesser known companies such as CVR Energy as well as brand names including Netflix .

The billionaire took over CVR earlier this year in a hostile transaction without the opportunity to do due diligence. He then scrapped his plan to take the company private in August, after acquiring 82 per cent of the refiner.

Mr Icahn then disclosed a 10 per cent stake in Netflix, proposing that the DVD rental and online media distribution company would be worth far more to one of the larger media companies than its current share price. In response, Netflix threw up corporate defences, a “poison pill” that prevents unauthorised stakebuilding in its shares.

Mr Icahn this year also sold his stake in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for close to $600m. It was unclear if he made a profit. That followed the sale of his stake in Lions Gate Entertainment, another entertainment company.

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