Carl Icahn seeks to acquire remaining stake in Federal-Mogul
DETROIT -- Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp.’s largest shareholder, billionaire Wall Street investor Carl Icahn, is seeking to buy the remaining stake in the diversified supplier of drivetrain parts and aftermarket retail products.
Icahn Enterprises LP, which already owns 82 percent of the company, offered $7 per share for the remaining 18 percent stake -- a 41 percent premium over the stock price at close on Feb. 26, the company said in a statement today.
Federal-Mogul’s board of directors will appoint a committee of independent directors to review the offer, the company said.
The Icahn offer comes after Federal-Mogul scrapped its plan in January to split the company into two separate public entities. Company officers pointed to market conditions as the culprit behind its decision not to split its aftermarket parts division from its powertrain division.
Also in January, Icahn won a $1.03 billion bidding war for auto parts retail chain Pep Boys. Experts believe Icahn plans to use the parts retailer as a mainline for Federal-Mogul parts but fear his vertical integration strategy will hurt the company over the long term.
Pep Boys' 800 stores, paired with Icahn's other aftermarket retailer, the 278-location Auto Plus, would make up the fifth-largest retail auto parts chain in the U.S. Even with Pep Boys' stores, Auto Plus would be significantly smaller than rivals Advance Auto Parts Inc., Autozone Inc. and O'Reilly Automotive Inc.
It’s unclear whether the Icahn taking full control of Federal-Mogul would expedite that process.
Federal-Mogul continues to struggle with profitability, reporting today a net loss of $58 million on revenue of $1.8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2015. For the year, it reported a loss of $110 million on revenue of $7.4 billion.
The company posted adjusted earnings of 22 cents a share, which beat analyst expectations of 12 cents.
Federal-Mogul produces a variety of well-known brand-name aftermarket products such as Anco wiper blades, Champion spark plugs and Wagner brake parts.
“When he bought Pep Boys, I assumed they would be selling Federal-Mogul parts,” said Maryann Keller, an independent auto-industry consultant in Stamford, Conn. “But that doesn’t solve the industry’s problem. They are selling traditional parts like brakes and spark plugs. It’s a low-margin business.”
Assuming he gains full control, Icahn could eventually split the company, Keller said.
Icahn got a large stake in Federal-Mogul in 2007 by acquiring bonds before it exited bankruptcy and eventually converting the bonds to equity. The manufacturer canceled plans in January to spin off its motor-parts business, which was split off from the powertrain division in late 2014 in a strategy to enable acquisitions.
Now Icahn is trying to find ways to create value and eventually exit the business, Keller said.
“He made a mistake getting in it,” she said. “He underestimated the challenges of getting in the auto-components business. Now he will look for a different solution.”
Bloomberg contributed to this report.
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