UPDATE 1-Icahn nods at Valeant interest, pushes for cash repatriation law

Tue Nov 3, 2015 6:33pm EST
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(Adds Icahn comments on Valeant, AIG, cash repatriation law)

By Michael Flaherty

NEW YORK Nov 3 (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Carl Icahn made a cryptic reference suggesting he has an interest in embattled drug maker Valeant on Tuesday, and said he was speaking to U.S. politicians about a corporate cash repatriation law that would deter so-called tax inversion deals.

"I'm not in Valeant, well, I don't want to say I'm not completely in it but I'm not going to tell you where I am with it," Icahn said, when asked about the company at the New York Times DealBook conference. He did not explain further.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc shares have plunged almost 40 percent since a scathing report last month by a short-seller alleged accounting improprieties in a network of specialty pharmacies.

Icahn said he was speaking to Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer about a law that would encourage U.S. companies to repatriate cash from overseas, and would discourage the controversial practice of inversion, where a company strikes a merger deal to re-incorporate overseas and lower its tax rate.

Icahn said he supports Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but said he would not be Treasury Secretary under him, as Trump has suggested. The activist investor said he never goes to Washington, but added that some of the politicians he speaks to are brighter than some of the chief executives he deals with.

Speaking on his latest corporate campaign, Icahn said he had been in touch with American International Group Inc Chief Executive Peter Hancock and confirmed that the two would soon meet.

In a letter sent to AIG last week, Icahn said he wanted Hancock to spin off AIG's life and mortgage units into public companies, cut costs more aggressively and give back more cash to shareholders.   Continued...