Wall Street

Icahn looking to launch an army of mini-Icahns

April 23, 2014: 9:22 AM ET

Legendary Wall Streeter says he could spend as much as $1 billion seeding new activist investors.

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FORTUNE -- Presumably, they would be younger and better looking.

Carl Icahn says he is interested in helping to start up other activist funds that invest like him. On Tuesday, speaking at IMN's Active-Passive Investor Summit in New York, Icahn said he would be willing to provide seed money to get a number of funds off the ground.

Icahn said the new funds are needed as corporate boards and their lawyers are making it harder for activist investors to be heard. He also said he was growing tired of drawn out proxy fights, despite threatening a number of them in the past year. And was looking for some younger investors who would take on some of this work. "Storm clouds are coming for activism," says Icahn. "Poison pills are getting worse."

MORE: eBay gets even with Carl Icahn

Icahn says he hasn't invested any money in other funds yet, and during the talk he didn't say how much he would invest in other funds. But in an appearance later on CNBC, he said he could see devoting as much as $1 billion to building an army of mini-Icahns.

Icahn said very little about how he would pick the managers, but he did say they would have to be "interested and involved in companies." Icahn also didn't say whether or how the funds might work together on investments. Recently, the SEC has been looking into whether there is a problem with activist investors colluding on deals.

Throughout the speech, Icahn sought to counter the notion that he is a short-term investor, a criticism that is often lobbed at him.

Earlier in the day, another prominent active investor, Jeff Ubben, criticized activist investors for not acting in the best interests of the companies they invest in. As an example, Ubben said his fund bought eBay (EBAY) shares earlier this year, but then exited the position once Carl Icahn's involvement with the company inflated its stock price. Ubben questioned whether Icahn's battles with the company had accomplished anything.

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"There's been a lot of coverage of Carl, but not a whole lot of change," says Ubben. "Activists are getting too much credit and not being accountable for their short-term behavior."

But Ubben claimed he wasn't criticizing Icahn. "Not picking on Carl," says Ubben. "He plays with his money, and he's having fun. I hope to do that some day."

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