(Bloomberg) -- Carl Icahn’s fortune fell $2.7 billion Friday after the activist investor made corporate changes in tacit response to a short seller’s scathing report published three months ago.
Icahn’s net worth dropped to $7.8 billion, the lowest since the Bloomberg Billionaires Index began tracking it 11 years ago, and less than a third of what it was in April.
Icahn Enterprises LP, the billionaire’s main investment vehicle, plunged 26% to $24.20 at 11:43 a.m. in New York after the company announced it was slashing its dividend in half to $1 per share.
The dividend was a key target of short seller Hindenburg Research’s allegations in May, which included claims the company was overvalued and that Icahn’s practice of leveraging his shares left it exposed in a downturn.
While Icahn Enterprises’ $2 dividend was appealing to retail investors, Hindenburg claimed the main reason the company could afford the hefty payout was because Icahn, its biggest shareholder by far, took his payment in the form of new shares. Hindenburg alleged that was the only way to make the dividend possible since Icahn Enterprises was consistently operating with negative cash flows.
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Icahn, 87, partially blamed Hindenburg for his company’s lackluster second-quarter results, which saw the company more than double its year-over-year quarterly net loss to $269 million. He referred to the short-seller’s report in a letter to investors as “misleading and self-serving.”
Icahn’s net worth has fallen by more than $17 billion since Hindenburg’s report was published.
Still, his fortune is somewhat less vulnerable to a selloff than it was a few months ago when shares of Icahn Enterprises that he pledged as collateral had a margin requirement tied to the company’s market value. Last month Icahn amended his loan agreements so that the pledged shares are tied to the company’s book value, which is a less volatile measure.
--With assistance from Tom Maloney.
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