Icahn intends to auction Visx Inc. if he gains control of laser company

April 11, 2001|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON - Carl Icahn, who is seeking board control at Visx Inc., said he will try to auction off the biggest maker of lasers for vision-correction surgery for at least $32 a share, if his slate of directors is elected.

Icahn, a financier with a 9.9 percent stake in Visx, is pushing to oust the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's board at its annual meeting May 4. He has said the bigger goal is to sell Visx to a larger company. Visx has urged its shareholders to re-elect the current directors.

In a filing yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Icahn pledged to "conduct an open auction to sell the company with a minimum acceptable bid of $32 per share," if he gains control.

"While Mr. Icahn has no present plans to bid in the auction, he would not be precluded from doing so," said the filing, a proxy statement to Visx shareholders.

Visx shares fell 89 cents to close at $19.10. The shares are up 83 percent this year.

Visx spokeswoman Lola Wood said she couldn't comment on details of the filing because she hadn't seen it. Visx has hired Goldman Sachs & Co. to review strategies to increase shareholder value, she said.

Visx's board last week approved a plan to buy back as many as 10 million common shares, or 17 percent of its stock.

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