Banner week for billionaire investor Carl Icahn – a total of four board seats at JetBlue and American Electric Power will go to deputies as Icahn celebrates his 88th birthday

Feb 17, 2024

The corporate raider Carl Icahn might be on a new streak as of today, his 88th birthday. JetBlue Airways announced on Friday that it had struck a deal to grant seats on the company’s board of directors to two representatives from Icahn’s companies. The lightning-fast JetBlue settlement came just days after utility company American Electric Power said it had reached an agreement with Icahn to seat two of his representatives on the board.

At JetBlue, Icahn disclosed his 9.9% ownership stake on Monday, the same day that new CEO Joanna Geraghty took over the job. It was also the same day that AEP announced its own deal with Icahn. His stakes in the two companies—and the wins—marked a public return to his well-worn activist-investing background after he weathered criticism from short-seller Hindenburg Research last year and pledged to investors that he would stick to what he does best: agitating for change on a board or in the CEO role and unlocking value for shareholders.

In the joint statement, Geraghty said the company was working to restore its earning power. The airline has been reeling since a federal judge quashed a merger between JetBlue and Spirit Airlines a month ago.

JetBlue shares rose 16% when Icahn disclosed his stake this week and 5.9% in after-hours trading following the announcement, reported Bloomberg.

“We are executing more than $300 million of revenue initiatives this year, and are on track to deliver significant cost savings from our structural cost program, fleet modernization, and fixed cost base reductions,” said Geraghty, adding that JetBlue welcomes “the contributions of our new board members as we move forward with that common goal.”

Icahn said he appreciated the “constructive engagement” with JetBlue’s board and C-suite.

“We very much look forward to working with them in the future,” he said.

JetBlue appointed Icahn Enterprises general counsel Jesse Lynn and Icahn Capital portfolio manager Steven Miller, the company said in a filing with the SEC. Lynn has served on boards including Crown Holdings, FirstEnergy and Xerox. Miller is a board member at Dana Incorporated, Bausch Health Companies and previously served on the Xerox board.

JetBlue chairman Peter Boneparth said Lynn and Miller would add “useful insights” to the board as the company charts a path to growth. The two new board members will be non-voting observers when they join the board on Feb. 26, and won’t have voting power until after the annual shareholder meeting this year.

Meanwhile, Icahn’s $120 million stake in AEP yielded board seats for Icahn Enterprises senior managing director Hunter Gary, who joined the AEP board along with Henry Linginfelter, former executive vice president of Southern Company Gas.

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