Icahn rails against 'sclerotic boards'

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The Independent Online

The ferocious activist investor Carl Icahn is taking his campaign against underperforming corporate managements into cyberspace with the launch of a scathing new blog.

The septuagenarian billionaire had been attracting titters from the finance industry because, having promised with great fanfare in February that he would start a new blog critiquing corporate governance, he took a full 138 days without putting finger to keyboard.

But yesterday he more than made up for the delay with a stream of invective against sclerotic boards, overpaid chief executives and shareholders who shirk their responsibility to hold their managements to account.

"Years from now historians will marvel why we the shareholders... did not do something effective about removing terrible managements," Mr Icahn thundered on icahnreport.com.

Boards are run like a "decaying socialist state", with non-executive directors simply turning up to rubber-stamp the plans of a chief executive who spends the rest of the time "flying around the world on the company's private jet on the 'business' of visiting... golf courses while he runs the company – and the value of your stock – into the ground".

In the past two years, Mr Icahn has stepped up his attempts to force out underperforming boards and persuade shareholders to elect his own representatives in their place. His latest fight is at Yahoo, where he wants to replace the board that failed to agree a takeover by Microsoft.

There was a certain irony, however, that the blog was launched just hours after Biogen Idec shareholders rejected his attempt to unseat the biotech firm's board and put it up for sale.