Billionaire investors trade barbs on live TV

Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman let loose with personal insults, salty language and the built-up tension that comes from years of animosity.

By Kim Peterson Jan 25, 2013 2:39PM
Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman really hate each other.

The two billionaires duked it out in an amazing show of verbal hostility on live television Friday, letting loose with a torrent of insults and obscenities. It was an unprecedented spectacle, one that the financial world won't forget anytime soon.

And the stock at the center of it all, Herbalife (HLF), went nuts during the conversation.
The two investors have been fighting for years, going back to 2003, when Ackman's former company was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Icahn bought Ackman's shares in a real estate company called Hallwood Realty, but the issue turned into a nasty legal battle later.

There's so much animosity between the two, in fact, that New York restaurants know not to seat them near each other, according to The New York Times.Credit: From left: Chip East/Reuters ; Jonathan Fickies/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Caption: From left: Carl Icahn; Bill Ackman

The two are feuding again over Herbalife, a stock that Ackman has made a well-publicized bet against. Ackman has called the company a pyramid scheme. News reports later said that Icahn had bought a position in Herbalife -- something Icahn has not publicly confirmed.

The tension between the two has been building for days. In an interview with Bloomberg television, Icahn said he didn't respect Ackman and challenged his "holier than thou" attitude. Ackman went on CNBC to defend himself, and Icahn joined in as well.

Here are the best zingers from the conversation Friday, which was hosted by CNBC's Scott Wapner:

Icahn: "I've really sorta had it with this guy Ackman. . . . He's like the crybaby of the school yard."

Icahn: "He's like the quintessential example of on Wall Street, if you want a friend, get a dog."

Ackman: "I was concerned about Carl Icahn because Carl Icahn unfortunately does not have a good reputation of being a handshake guy."

Ackman: "This is not an honest guy, this is not a guy who keeps his word, and this is a guy who takes advantage of little people."

Icahn (to Wapner): "I'm not going to talk about my Herbalife position because you want to bully me. I'm going to talk about what I want to talk about. . . . I'm never going on a show with you again, that's for damn sure."

Icahn (about Ackman): "I couldn't figure out if he was the most sanctimonious guy I'd ever met in my life or the most arrogant."

Icahn: "I wouldn't have an investment with Ackman if you paid me to do it. . . . I made a huge mistake getting involved with him. As far as I'm concerned, the guy is a major loser."

Ackman: Icahn "either has a bad memory or he has trouble with the truth. . . . He is not used to someone standing up to him."

Icahn: "I wouldn't do business with you if you were the last man on Earth"

Icahn also used plenty of salty language on the call, to the point that Wapner reminded him that he was on live television. Icahn responded that when CNBC producers asked him to go on they air, they told him he could say whatever he wanted. And he certainly did.

It was jaw-dropping television, and Twitter lit up with people shocked by the conversation. "Best television since Frazier-Ali fights," one said. CNBC asked viewers in a poll who won, and by the early afternoon Ackman was the clear favorite.

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Tags: Drama
Jan 25, 2013 3:53PM
Mr. Icahn today on a national radio broadcast you stated that as a kid growing up in Queens you would, "beat up the little Jewish boys"... and you stated it with pride and bravado... Mr. Icahn, you should be ashamed not only of your behavior, but for continuing to comment about it in the manner you did today... 
Jan 25, 2013 3:51PM

Both men are spoiled little girl crybabies.

Jan 25, 2013 3:00PM
anything for a much are these low lifes getting paid?  More scripted reality?
Jan 25, 2013 4:27PM
this is a cock fight between two dicks, and I wouldn't do business with either of them or follow their lead. I don't care how much money they have between them........
Jan 25, 2013 5:00PM
This is what happens when one crook tries to do business with another one.  LMAO

If you want to know what's wrong with this country, this is a prime example!!!
Jan 25, 2013 4:06PM
...what the heck is this?  They didn't fight...Icahn was such a douche...yup...douche...
Jan 25, 2013 3:23PM
Carl... you still raising a family? If not... WTF? Go build a ship in the bottle, liquidate your wealth and enjoy your final years. You're just a pariah killing the world if you don't. Feel free to look up: Socio-Psychopath and see if your name is listed in the examples.  
Jan 25, 2013 6:05PM

People like these guys are the reason we need lobby reform and we need some regulation to seperate the commercial banks from Wall Street. These are the kind of people that destroyed the U.S. and world economy in 07-08. We need to reinstitute some portions of Glass Stegall and other depression era Roosevelt regulations to keep these wolves from fleecing the sheep again as they call it.  These guys are in the same class as Bernie Madoff, the American people are fools for letting them say trust me, take the regulations off.


These guys and people like them need to be watched!

Jan 25, 2013 4:38PM
Carl Icahn is like the bully that always wants to steal your lunch money except he does it with shareholders!
Jan 25, 2013 6:42PM
2 greedy bastards showing us all why we have a massive problem on Wall Street ........... 
Jan 25, 2013 5:24PM
You see what money can give you?  You can be an absolute low  life jackass and still get paid for it.
Jan 25, 2013 4:31PM

Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots? Billionaire style? It figures. What was the Voivod song some years back, "Are we not men?" No...these two are not. They've sucked up so long to the color green wallowing in billions, they can't even be civil to each other in public.

Jan 25, 2013 5:24PM
In my humble opinion, Herbalife is a pyramid scheme.  Sorry I wasted so much time and money on it.
Jan 25, 2013 5:06PM
Icahn sounds like an inarticulate mobster.
Jan 25, 2013 5:17PM
Damn. I clicked on this link hoping it was a vid of one of the Koch brothers pegging Donald Trump. Ah well, maybe next time.
any business that thrives on somekind of pyramid is always a scheme.   the one at the top will ALWAYS get his / hers dues that trickle up from the bottom.  

and the ones at the bottom ALWAYS lose money, unless they can find someone else to con into the scheme.
Jan 25, 2013 5:58PM
Icahn  kept repeating how he done deals on a hand shake in 70s & 80s and expects to do the same now... "the handshake" deal was respected prior the the 1st depression, now I "hand shake" deal is done to not be traced our accountable for nothing...
you both are crooked, one more than the other, but I guess to make it in Wall Street you all have to be a bit for the old sayings:

"the path of least resistance is what makes rivers run crooked" Elbert Hubbard
"don't trust water, even the straightest stick crooks in it" W.C. Fields
"you still wear a suit, you still could be a crook" Jason Richardson
Jan 25, 2013 3:02PM
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