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Corporate Raider Carl Icahn Marks 88th Birthday with Board Seats at JetBlue and American Electric Power

On his 88th birthday, renowned corporate raider Carl Icahn is making headlines once again with swift moves in the boardrooms of two major companies. JetBlue Airways and American Electric Power (AEP) have both agreed to grant seats on their boards to representatives from Icahn’s companies in separate deals, marking a notable return to his activist-investing roots.

JetBlue Airways announced the agreement on Friday, revealing that it had reached a deal to appoint two representatives from Icahn’s entities to its board of directors. This announcement comes hot on the heels of American Electric Power’s similar agreement, where Icahn secured seats for his representatives on the utility company’s board.

Icahn’s latest move at JetBlue involved disclosing his substantial 9.9% ownership stake on the same day that the new CEO, Joanna Geraghty, assumed her role. The disclosure coincided with Icahn’s announcement of a similar deal with AEP. These strategic investments mark Icahn’s public return to his familiar activist-investing domain after weathering criticism from short-seller Hindenburg Research last year. In response, Icahn pledged to stick to what he does best – agitating for change on boards or in CEO roles to unlock value for shareholders.

The announcement had a significant impact on JetBlue’s stock, with shares rising 16% upon Icahn’s stake disclosure and an additional 5.9% in after-hours trading following the board seat agreement. The airline has been facing challenges, particularly since a federal judge recently thwarted a proposed merger between JetBlue and Spirit Airlines.

In a joint statement, Geraghty emphasized the company’s commitment to restoring its earning power, outlining various revenue initiatives and cost-saving measures. She welcomed the new board members, expressing a shared goal of moving forward.

Icahn, in turn, appreciated the “constructive engagement” with JetBlue’s leadership, expressing anticipation for future collaboration. JetBlue appointed Jesse Lynn, general counsel of Icahn Enterprises, and Steven Miller, portfolio manager at Icahn Capital, to its board. Lynn has served on boards for companies such as Crown Holdings, FirstEnergy, and Xerox, while Miller is a board member at Dana Incorporated and Bausch Health Companies.

JetBlue chairman Peter Boneparth highlighted the “useful insights” Lynn and Miller would bring to the board as the company navigates its path to growth. The new board members will initially serve as non-voting observers and will gain voting power after the annual shareholder meeting later this year.

Simultaneously, Icahn’s $120 million stake in American Electric Power secured board seats for Icahn Enterprises senior managing director Hunter Gary and Henry Linginfelter, the former executive vice president of Southern Company Gas. These developments underscore Icahn’s continued influence and strategic prowess in shaping the corporate landscape as he celebrates his 88th birthday.

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