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Carl Icahn to HP: ‘Let The Shareholders Decide’

‘HP hasn’t done any great thing for the last five or six years,’ says Carl Icahn, one of HP’s largest shareholders.

Even as Xerox announced that it would step away from its pursuit of HP Inc. to give the company time to focus on its coronavirus response, Xerox’s largest shareholder Carl Icahn appeared on CNBC calling out the HP board for inaction on the company and giving a strong, public endorsement for Xerox CEO John Visentin to run the combined enterprise.

“As a shareholder, I would want John Visentin, who is running Xerox to run the company, because Visentin, I think has shown already his ability at Xerox and has cut the heck out of costs there and done a great job,” Icahn said Friday on CNBC’s “Halftime Report.” “HP hasn’t done any great thing for the last five or six years. So I said ‘In any way, put the companies together. I own stock in both of them. But I want Visentin to run it. That’s what I care about.”

He also downplayed Xerox’s statement on Friday morning that it would suspend its courting of HP shareholders as its leadership focused on protecting employees and business partners from the coronavirus pandemic.

[Related story: Xerox Takeover Offer For HP Could Take A Hit From Stock Price Collapse]

“They’re not pulling out of anything,” Icahn told CNBC host Scott Wapner . “You shouldn’t take much from that. They’re just saying with the coronavirus and all that going on, they don’t want to go on a roadshow now to go visit people all over the country to talk about the deal when everyone understands the deal already. This is a great deal.”

Xerox has made a $24 per share offer that is comprised of $24 billion in cash, with the remainder of the deal funded through Xerox shares. But troubled markets have dinged the value of both companies, with Xerox losing more than $3 billion off its market cap since Feb. 12. However with HP shares slipping well below Xerox’s asking price, Wapner asked Icahn: “Why shouldn’t HP take the money and run at this point?”

“Why don’t you call them and ask them?” the legendary corporate raider replied. “It’s a great question. Because like anybody else, like any other board, these guys on the board, in many cases think it’s their company. Look if you’re a board member in many respects you have a real good deal. You sit there. You go to four meetings. You get paid $100,000 sometimes for a meeting. You talk. You have a few drinks. You laugh, and I’m not exaggerating. Its not that they’re bad people. They’re not bad people. If you can get away with it, you do it. They let all this happen. Here they have a company and what has it done for the last 20 years? And they keep talking about this and that and this. If they get a bid for this company they should take it seriously and they should say ‘OK. Let the shareholders decide.’ ”

He said a report earlier this week that he would consider buying HP on his own, was “taken out of context,” however he did not deny it.
“I can’t even remember the conversation, but I didn’t make any bid for it,” he said. “That’s not even the point. The point is, the synergies here are tremendous and the company HP admits it’s tremendous.”

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