Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is attempting to acquire Oshkosh Corp. for about $3 billion, or $32.50 per share, about a 21-percent premium compared to the company’s closing stock price of $26.85 on Wednesday, the day before he announced his bid. Icahn, Oshkosh’s largest investor with nearly 10 percent of the company’s stock, said he would attempt to acquire at least 25 percent of the company’s stock in the coming weeks and then nominate his own slate of directors in a bit to take control over Oshkosh Corp., owner of aerial work platform manufacturer JLG Inc. and a manufacturer of fire trucks and specialty defense vehicles.
Icahn last year nominated six associates to the Oshkosh board in an effort to wrest control, but that proposal was defeated by shareholders.
Icahn said if he is able to acquire at least 40 percent of the stock, adding to the 10 percent he already owns, he will demand that the company's board immediately schedule a shareholders’ meeting so his board candidates can be elected and complete the purchase of all the shares.
"We urge shareholders to tender shares and send a strong message to Oshkosh management to accept our offer and close promptly," Icahn said in a written statement. “It is clear to me that management has taken a passive attitude to the future of this company, willing to sit back and watch what happens to the defense, housing and construction industries, hoping for a positive outcome and reduced competition.”
Oshkosh responded in a statement that it would evaluate the offer, urging shareholders to “take no action at this time pending a review of the unsolicited tender offer by the Oshkosh board.”
Sources close to the situation, as well as analysts familiar with the company, indicated they believed Icahn’s offer is too low to be seriously considered by Oshkosh shareholders. The company’s stock was valued at $29.72 at the close of trading Friday.
A major piece of Oshkosh is aerial work platform manufacturer JLG Industries, which Oshkosh acquired for $3.2 billion in late 2006. Although demand for JLG’s products dropped considerably when construction plunged during the recession, demand has improved lately. The company has lowered costs and improved operational efficiencies and hopes to double earnings per share by 2015.
Icahn has contended the company’s progress is insufficient and has argued that the company should consider selling JLG or the military vehicle portion of the business. The company also produces fire trucks, trailers, concrete-working equipment, garbage trucks and other products.
Icahn is ranked No. 21 on the Forbes list of 50 top billionaires in the United States, with a net worth of $14.8 billion.
McConnellsburg, Pa.-based JLG is the world’s largest manufacturer of aerial work platforms. Oshkosh Corp. is headquartered in Oshkosh, Wis.