February 27, 2017 / 11:01 PM / 3 years ago

Icahn representative to several corporate boards has left firm, eyes starting own fund

(Reuters) - Samuel Merksamer, who represents billionaire Carl Icahn on several corporate boards, has exited the activist investor’s firm and a source familiar with his plans said that he is exploring launching his own hedge fund.

At the same time Vincent Intrieri, another long-time Icahn executive who also sits on boards on behalf of the activist investor, retired from the firm, the source said.

Merksamer had since 2008 been a managing director at Icahn Capital, a unit of Icahn Enterprises LP, and served on the boards of more than a dozen companies on his behalf, according to biographies on corporate websites.

He will continue to serve as Icahn’s representative on several corporate boards, maintaining his ties to his long-time employer whom he left on good terms, the source said.

Merksamer currently sits on the boards of American International Group Inc, Transocean Ltd, Navistar International Corp, Ferrous Resources Ltd, Hertz Global Holdings Inc and Cheniere Energy Inc.

Merksamer could not immediately be reached.

Similarly Intrieri is expected to continue serving as a director, the source said. He currently sits on boards at Transocean, Hertz Global Holdings, Ferrous Resources, Navistar and previously served as a director at Chesapeake Energy Corporation.

“After almost nine years, it is time to move on from Icahn Capital and do something else,” Merksamer had written colleagues in a December 2016 email. He did not give a reason for his departure or say what he would be doing next.

The source who is familiar with Merksamer’s plans said he is considering opening his own investment fund, something several of Icahn’s former employees have done with financial help from their former boss.

Icahn, who stopped managing money for outside investors in 2011, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Unless there is a specific clause in Icahn’s settlement with AIG that stipulates Merksamer needing to step down should his contract with Icahn Enterprises expire, directors’ tenures are usually are not tied to employee terms,” said Dan Marcec, director of content and marketing at Equilar, a database that tracks board directors.

Representatives at AIG, Cheniere and Transocean all said Merksamer remains on their respective boards of directors.

A spokesperson for Brazilian mining company Ferrous Resources could not immediately be reached. Other companies whose boards Merksamer currently serves on either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Icahn has shaken up management teams and business strategies at many companies, using deputies like Merksamer to implement changes he deems necessary. AIG’s board is now reportedly considering whether to replace Chief Executive Peter Hancock.. At the end of the fourth quarter, Icahn owned 45.6 million shares of AIG, making it his second-largest holding after Icahn Enterprises, a regulatory filing showed.

Merksamer was a relatively young face among corporate directors, who tend to be near or past retirement age. The 36-year-old graduated from Cornell University in 2002 with an economics degree. He was previously an analyst at Airlie Opportunity Capital Management. Intrieri is 60, according to the Transocean website.

Both Intrieri and Merksamer were re-elected to their board seats at Navistar earlier this month.

Directors of public companies are typically elected by shareholders at annual meetings to serve a one-year term.

Icahn, who is worth $16.6 billion, according to Forbes, has several other deputies involved in his investments, including his son Brett Icahn, as well as David Schechter and Jonathan Christodoro.

Others have left Icahn’s firm to start their own activist investment funds, including Corvex Management founder Keith Meister and Sarissa Capital Management’s Alex Denner.

Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in NEW YORK; Additional reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Michael Flaherty and Olivia Oran; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Phil Berlowitz, G Crosse and Alan Crosby

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