From Automotive News
Detroit, Illinois (Reuters) -- Billionaire investor Carl Icahn yesterday sold more than two-thirds of his stake in Lear Corp. to realise capital losses before the end of the year, but said he was still supportive of the company's management.
Icahn, whose efforts to take Lear private in 2007 were rebuffed by shareholders who rejected his $37.25 per share offer, disclosed the sale of 8.5 million shares at $1.90 per share in a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Icahn, Lear's largest shareholder, cut his holdings to 3.8 million shares, or 4.95 percent. Icahn adviser Vincent Intrieri resigned from Lear's board as well.
Shares of Lear, a supplier of automotive seating and electronics, have fallen 92 percent so far in 2008 amid the US economic slowdown that has pushed U.S. auto industry sales to a quarter-century low and spread to other regions.
In a letter to Lear's board, Icahn called Lear ceo Bob Rossiter and executive vice president Dan Ninivaggi "extremely competent executives."
"I also have a great respect for the other senior executives at Lear that I have had occasion to meet during the past year," he wrote. "I hope to keep up my relationship with both Bob and Dan in the coming months."
In a separate letter of resignation sent to Lear's board, Intrieri said he had no disagreement with the company over its operations, policies or practices.
"We have a great deal of confidence in the current management team and believe they have done, and will continue to do, the right things to create value for shareholders," Intrieri said in his resignation letter.
"We regret that the merger transaction that was proposed last year was not approved by shareholders, as we believe that the company would have benefited tremendously from being a private enterprise," Intrieri wrote. "Nevertheless, we believe that the company is well positioned to weather the tough economic environment ahead."
Lear shares this morning were trading at $2.25 a share, up 7.7 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.