On Thursday, President Trump announced he will impose new tariffs on imported aluminum and steel; 10 percent on aluminum and 25 percent on steel.
But just a few days before Trump made that announcement, a longtime friend of his, billionaire investor Carl Icahn, began dumping stock in a company that is dependent on steel for its products.
Beginning with an SEC filing on February 22, Icahn began selling almost a million shares of Manitowoc Company, Inc., which is a manufacturer of “cranes and lifting solutions,” and relies heavily on steel as part of its business. The stock sales took place just a week before Trump roiled global financial markets with his talk of impending tariffs.
Think Progress also reports:
“Before February, Icahn was not actively trading Manitowoc stock. According to regulatory filings, he did not buy or sell any shares of Manitowoc between January 17, 2015 and February 11, 2018. The February 22 filing was required because his ownership stake dropped below 5 percent.”
This latest news about potentially shady dealings by Icahn is just the latest questionable financial behavior by the financier, who resigned from an advisory role in the Trump administration in August. His resignation was precipitated by an article which appeared in The New Yorker that alleged:
“One day in August, 2016, the financier Carl Icahn made an urgent phone call to the Environmental Protection Agency. Icahn is one of the richest men on Wall Street, and he has thrived, in no small measure, because of a capacity to intimidate. A Texas-based oil refiner in which he had a major stake was losing money because of an obscure environmental rule that Icahn regarded as unduly onerous. Icahn is a voluble critic of any government regulation that constrains his companies. So he wanted to speak with the person in charge of enforcing the policy: a senior official at the E.P.A. named Janet McCabe.”
Could Icahn have known that the steel tariffs were about to be announced and was therefore eager to divest himself of a company dependent on the commodity? Is Icahn still in contact with the president? Icahn told CNBC on Thursday that he does have occasional conversations with Trump, but tried to downplay them as not frequent.
Though it might be hard to prove insider trading in regard to Icahn’s dumping of the Manitowoc stock, it does seem more than a bit coincidental that he was able to anticipate the tariffs.
Neither Icahn or the White House have commented on the timing of the stock sale.
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