activist investors

At 78, Carl Icahn shows little sign of retiring, or of becoming more polite. After finally prodding Forest Labs into a $25bn takeover by Actavis, he renewed his attack on eBay this week, accusing John Donahoe, its chief executive, of being “completely asleep or, even worse, either naive or wilfully blind”.

If “staying active” is the key to a long life, Carl Icahn will probably live for years. At 77, the US investor is on a concerted activist campaign. He has tried (unsuccessfully) to disrupt Michael Dell’s buyout of the computer maker he founded, dined with Apple’s chief executive and pressed him to return cash to shareholders, and last week planted board members – including his son Brett – at Nuance, the Boston technology company that gives Apple’s Siri his/her voice.

Depositors of banks in Cyprus now fear they have less money than they thought while US corporations have plenty of cash to hand – $1.45tn and rising, according to Moody’s. But whose money is it, anyway?