Clorox spent US$12M in advisory fees last quarter to fight off billionaire investor Carl Icahn's advances to take over the company, appoint his own members to the company board, says Clorox CEO
November 3, 2011
– The fiscal first quarter was a tempestuous period for Clorox Co. thanks to its largest shareholder, activist investor Carl Icahn.
In July, Icahn made an unusual bid for the company, offering to buy it but also urging it to shop itself around and see if any competitors would bite. Icahn said the company would be more valuable under either of those scenarios. He also nominated his own roster of board members.
Clorox resisted, saying Icahn's offers undervalued the company and that it was doing just fine on its own. Then the proxy fight died quietly in September, when Icahn withdrew his nominees and said he'd determined that shareholders wouldn't support his efforts.
In Clorox's quarterly earnings report Wednesday, the company said it had spent $12 million in advisory fees to fight off Icahn's overtures.
But CEO Don Knauss, when asked in a post-earnings conference call if he knew Icahn's plans for Clorox, had only compliments. And anyway, he said, the billionaire was probably too busy with other recent purchases, like his stake in truck maker Navistar International Corp.
Knauss: Obviously, I don't comment typically on conversations I have with investors. I will say this and it is a reinforcement of what Carl has said. He is an activist. If he doesn't believe he can activate, so to speak, he is probably going to be fairly quiet. I don't know what Carl plans on doing, but so far, it's been certainly a good relationship and I don't expect that to change. We'll see but you know, given his focus on other areas right now like Navistar, we'll see where he goes in the future.
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