Billionaire investor Carl Icahn effectively gave away almost all his stock in WCI Communities Dec. 4, nearly two years after buying 14% of the Florida-based builder's shares and launching a take-over.
Icahn, who remains chairman of WCI's board, sold 6,096,175 of the shares under his control in a "privately negotiated transaction" for a total of $0.02 to an investor who plans to hold the stock for an investment, according to an SEC document filed Friday, Dec. 5. Ichan retained 3,848 shares.
No word yet as to the buyer's identity. Keith Meister, an Icahn employee and appointee to the WCI board, would not comment Monday morning. Neither would Russell Devendorf, WCI's newly appointed senior vice president and CFO.
Stock in the company, which is reorganizing in bankruptcy court, closed at $0.063 Friday in the pink sheets where it is now traded.
Icahn paid an average of just over $16 a share for the stock in January 2007, shortly after calling former WCI board chairman Don Ackerman in December to discuss ways to increase the company's stock price while indicating that he wanted to buy some. Ackerman turned him away. That day, the stock price closed at $17.57. Entities under Icahn's control spent $80,866,443 at an average of $15.78 for 5,123,600 of the shares, according to the SEC filing. Later transactions brought the average price above $16.
Icahn could have lost more. In May 2007, after buying into the company, he tendered an offer to buy all outstanding stock for $22 a share. After a month without enough takers and amid a home building market that was clearly deteriorating fast, particularly in WCI's primary Florida market, he called off the offer.
In August 2007, Icahn won three seats on the company's board and was named chairman the following month, effectively gaining control of the company.
"Despite the rough road ahead, I believe in the long-term value of the company and view the WCI platform as a unique vehicle to take advantage of the current market disarray," Icahn said in a statement issued following his unanimous election to the board. The stock price was then at $8.60.
Icahn's involvement in the company gave some investors hope that he would prove to be a white knight with the know-how and financial wherewithal to rescue the company. That hope was dashed last August when, nearly out of cash, WCI filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. Icahn hadn't even been chairman for a full year.
On Dec. 2, bankruptcy court judge Kevin Carey extended WCI's deadline for its exclusive right to file a plan to reorganize the company to April 1 and its exclusive period to solicit acceptance of the plan to June 1.