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 27, 2013 3:05PM

They don't like each other, so the **** what?  They don't pay my bills.


Jan 25, 2013 9:06PM
This is the first time that all the readers so far have agreed that these billionaires and Wall Street shenanigans might have something to do with a faltering world economy and thus the economy of the United States. However, and still, the disadvantaged in America are always the blame. And the disadvantaged now includes young White male university graduates with spectacular grades who are working in McDonald s at minimum wage and needing to move back home with their parents because they can't afford to live on their own and still on the parent's health insurance plans
Jan 25, 2013 9:02PM
Some business requires to be a pyramid scheme because of the products. The quality of product is spread by the words of mouth. Pyramid scheme is a direct-to-people way of marketing.
Jan 25, 2013 8:50PM
Isn't it about time for Ichan to roll over and die already... old fool.
Jan 25, 2013 8:33PM
Hey Icahn.  this Jew boy will meet you old **** in any school yard any day

When the rich give donations and charity gifts to the legit individual poor, then that would be something to report about. Until then I could care less that these two billionaires are hagging each other..



Help The Individual Poor.  Donate a $$$$ gift.. to help them.....

Jan 25, 2013 8:11PM
Not much of a racist is Ichan? He talks more like John Gotti. I hope they both fold.
Jan 25, 2013 7:44PM
This was ugly and fantastic!  You never hear 'the truth' when investment people speak of each other in public.  As one who worked in finance for a while, but never with them, I can assume with great confidence that they're probably both a-holes to some degree.  I'm more familiar with Mr. Icahn's 'work' over the years.  And no one can bully Carl Icahn.  No one.  Note: I feel the same as Ackman about Herbalife.  Sorry.
Jan 25, 2013 7:32PM
I don't know these guy's from Adam, however -- one guy sounds legit, has won the court cases, and sticks mainly to the facts. The other sounds like a total j*ck *ss. Anyone with half a brain in business knows a verbal agreement is only good to $500. If you rely on a verbal agreement beyond that, you are a fool. Save the cute sayings Mr. Ichan. Business is business, and you sir, have been plainly and simply outsmarted, and completely outclassed.
Jan 25, 2013 7:24PM
Well Carl did grow up in the Hitler which explains his hate for jews.
Jan 25, 2013 7:20PM
I love when rich people fight you see the real person...
Jan 25, 2013 7:18PM
Jan 25, 2013 7:17PM
Ostensibly, maturity is not a prerequisite in obtaining wealth. Mr. Icahn brags about being a school bully at his age? My 13 y/o son exhibits more character. I feel sorry for his children. His arrogance is a cover for his insecurity as evidenced by resorting to making personal attacks towards Mr. Ackman and the moderator. Notice how he takes offense to the moderator not giving the same send-off. Also, notice how he returns a compliment from Ackman with an another insult. I would feel sorry for him if he didn't continue to act like a bully.
Jan 25, 2013 7:09PM
ICAHN is a CON. He is also a piece of poop. What a ****. He needs to be slapped down, physically and financially. How many companies has he destroyed with his sick power plays. He is one of the biggest scars on Wall Street and the investment world.
Jan 25, 2013 7:09PM
Two of the Wall Street crooks duking it out, where is the money that both of you bilked so many investors out of? No you don't need to tell me, in YOUR bank accounts in Cayman island.
Jan 25, 2013 6:42PM
2 greedy bastards showing us all why we have a massive problem on Wall Street ........... 
Jan 25, 2013 6:37PM
You 2 big BABIES throwing mud at each other, take some of your billionnaire money and throw it to some of us people that don't have anything. I never made 30,000 dollars a year in the 35 yrs i worked. Want to something good help some of us that don't have anything. 4 months after i retired my company filed bankruptsy and my million dollar health insurance went out the window. Everyone else there lost their jobs and you ****ing billionnaires are crying. RIGHT
Jan 25, 2013 6:34PM
I thought Icahn was a decent guy but he sure comes across as a prick in this interview.
Jan 25, 2013 6:31PM

Billionaires - I would bet - mostly fall under the "sociopath" or "psychopath" label if one were to have them evaluated by professionals.  You see, in order to get that far up the food chain - one would have to do all kinds of terrible things to people and be able to sleep at night.  Most of us would be very troubled by our actions and would need to make up for it.  These guys - please!  They are the 1% of the 1% who own almost everything in the world.  A recent study showed that it would take $75 billion to stop starvation once and for all.  Imagine if one of these creeps were to give up $1 billion each.  We would only need 73 more of them to give up a billion each to end it.  Or we could just end all war.  Ooops!  That would cost these ubber rich even more money - sorry for suggesting it.

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