Activist investor Carl Icahn wrote to the editor of The New York Times to correct the misconception that one of the paper’s previous articles may have given its readers:
While I found your article, “The Raider in Winter” (April 17) to be informative, I believe readers might draw conclusions that are inaccurate. The article states, “Mr. Icahn lost so much money during the financial crisis that he is still a bit shaken by the experience.” I find this statement to be nonsense.
In my business, if losing money shakes you up, you won’t last until “spring,” let alone become a “raider in winter.” Ironically, and at the risk of being immodest, I believe the financial crisis was my finest hour as an investor and as a man who stood by his commitments.
During the crisis, many hedge fund investors demanded their money back, but many funds refused. My fund returned capital to any investor who asked. To meet withdrawals, from November 2008 to March 2009, I invested $500 million of my own capital, rather than having the fund sell significant positions at depressed prices. While I believed then that my investment might have a major short-term loss, it became one of my best ever, resulting in a 61 percent annualized return.
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