Our sister paper Crain's Detroit Business has a rare interview with Carl Icahn in today's issue, in which he answers the question, why does a billionaire want to buy an automotive supplier?
"If you look at my history, I've done this all of my life. You buy companies that are not in favor," Icahn said in an interview with Crain's Detroit Business on Friday. "You go against the emotion. You go against the tide. You don't go with the crowd, you go against it."Lear Corp. on Feb. 9 agreed to a $5.3 billion buyout from New York-based American Real Estate Partners LP, a company affiliated with Icahn. Icahn explains in the interview that the idea of a buyout came up in a dinner meeting in January with Lear Chairman and CEO Bob Rossiter.
"Bob and I were talking about his vision for the company, and he said it's hard to maintain a long-term focus in volatile and difficult market conditions, because if you stumble and the stock goes down even in the short term, your customers and suppliers start to worry," Icahn said. "So then I suggested "Why don't you think of taking it private?' And he said, "Let's explore it.' "Icahn's prescription for Lear: to cut costs while "continuing to invest in new products, technology and plants." The Lear deal isn't guaranteed -- some investors believe Icahn's offer is undervalued. But it would be surprising if someone stepped up with a more lucrative offer.