Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross should join him in pledging to give at least half his wealth to charity, after Gross urged Icahn to dedicate more time to helping people instead of pushing Apple Inc. to buy shares.
“If you really want to do good, why not join” the Giving Pledge, Icahn wrote in a message on Twitter today, referring to a group that Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett founded to encourage the world’s richest to give the majority of their wealth to charity.
Icahn’s response escalates an exchange that started last week when Gross, manager of the world’s biggest mutual fund, said Icahn should leave Apple alone. Gross said Icahn should instead spend more time like Gates, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder and the world’s richest man, who with his wife Melinda, has started a foundation aimed at improving people’s lives.
Icahn, ranked 34th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index of the world’s richest people with a personal wealth of $21.2 billion, is pushing Apple to buy back $150 billion of shares and has criticized the board for not acting to enhance value. Icahn has signed the Giving Pledge. In 2012, he gave $200 million to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the biggest donation ever to the New York City teaching hospital.
Gross’s personal wealth is estimated at $2 billion. The 69-year-old, who manages the $250 billion Pimco Total Return Fund (PTTRX:US), has endowed a foundation with $293 million in assets and raised money for Doctors Without Borders, a medical charity, by selling parts of his stamp collection. Mark Porterfield, a spokesman for Newport Beach, California-based Pimco, declined to comment last week on whether Gross had signed the pledge. Porterfield didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment today.
Gross’s name doesn’t appear on the Giving Pledge website, which shows about 114 current pledgers, including couples. Other donors who are money managers include Pershing Square Capital Management LP’s Bill Ackman and his wife, Karen; Bridgewater Associates LP’s Ray Dalio and his wife, Barbara; and Carlyle Group LP’s David Rubenstein.
After Gross’s Twitter message on Oct. 24 that said “Icahn should leave Apple alone & spend more time like Bill Gates,” Icahn appeared on the television network CNBC and said Gross had a right to his opinion, yet he will continue to tackle what he views as problems in corporate governance.
In a Twitter message on Oct. 25, Gross said he too should spend more time on philanthropy and called Gates and his wife “great paragons.” The money manager gave $20 million to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last year and $20 million to Mercy Ships, an international medical charity, in August.
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