Ex-Trump adviser Carl Icahn dumps $31M in stocks days before steel tariffs announced
Billionaire and former adviser to President Donald Trump, Carl Icahn, dumped roughly $31 million of stock in a company heavily dependent on steel just over a week before the White House announced a new tariff on steel imports.
A filing from the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Icahn disclosed that he systematically sold off nearly 1 million shares of Manitowoc Co. Inc., a Wisconsin-based global crane manufacturer, which relies on steel to make its products. Think Progress first reported on the filing Friday.
Trump announced Thursday that he planned to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum, as he believes import taxes will help protect American jobs and boost the U.S. economy.
“We’ll be imposing tariffs on steel imports and tariffs on aluminum imports,” Trump said at the White House. “You will have protection for the first time in a long while, and you’re going to regrow your industries.”
Global News attempted to reach Carl Icahn, but he was not immediately available for comment.
By Friday morning Manitowoc’s shares had fallen almost $6 to $26.37. Icahn sold his shares for $32 to $34, according to the regulatory filing. The SEC filing shows Icahn began selling his Manitowoc stock on Feb. 12, just days before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross publicly released a report on Feb. 16 calling for a 24 per cent tariff.
Icahn, who is worth nearly $16.9B according to Forbes, has described Trump as a “good friend” and was a special adviser to Trump during the election. He resigned his position last August amid concerns about potential conflicts of interest relating to his vast business dealings.
“Indeed, out of an abundance of caution, the only issues I ever discussed with you were broad matters of policy affecting the refining industry,” Icahn said in his resignation letter to Trump. “I never sought any special benefit for any company with which I have been involved, and have only expressed views that I believed would benefit the refining industry as a whole.”
Icahn’s resignation came less than two weeks before the New Yorker published an extensive profile on the billionaire, suggesting Icahn used his White House position — and access to government officials — to protect his investments, including an oil refinery company he owns, CVR Energy.
“Icahn’s role was novel. He would be an adviser with a formal title, but he would not receive a salary, and he would not be required to divest himself of any of his holdings, or to make any disclosures about potential conflicts of interest,” the New Yorker article read. “In the months after the election, the stock price of CVR, Icahn’s refiner, nearly doubled – a surge that is difficult to explain without acknowledging the appointment of the company’s lead shareholder to a White House position.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s planned tariffs have stoked fears of a global trade war and the president has said he would welcome a trade war if other countries threatened to retaliate.
“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he tweeted.
Although the tariff appeared to be aimed at China – the largest player in the global steel market – Canada could also be affected and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was quick to call the proposal “unacceptable.”
“We regard the implication of any new tariffs as absolutely unacceptable,” Trudeau said. “I have spoken a number of times directly with the president on this issue … highlighting and reminding him of the close security cooperation we have and highlighting this is not something that we want to see.”
Canadian officials, American officials and businesses, including the Canadian and U.S. steel associations, have pushed for an exemption that would shield Canada from the new tariff. The White House has so far given no indications there will be exemptions of any kind.
*With files from Amanda Connolly
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