Financier Carl Icahn, the biggest individual investor in Motorola, has reconfirmed his commitment to the firm by purchasing additional Motorola stock, according to a Securities and Exchange filing this week. Icahn bought another $86 million in Motorola stock, bringing his total to 10.4% as the firm moves toward its goal of breaking itself up early next year. Icahn gained a prominent role in guiding Motorola's future more than three years ago by arguing that the company is worth more broken up than it is as a single entity.
Earlier attempts to sell off pieces of the company failed, but after the company hired Sanjay Jha from Qualcomm, the company's long-troubled mobile phone operation has begun to gain traction in the marketplace, particularly by developing devices based on Google's Android platform.
Icahn is still losing money on his Motorola investment, but by averaging out his cost per share of the company's stock, he is hoping to cash in when the company splits its two main units provided its stock rises substantially.
Once among the proudest brands in global communications, Motorola practically invented the mobile phone only to see its market share wither away as foreign firms led by Nokia, Samsung and Sony-Ericsson captured the lion's share of the market. Motorola also jettisoned its wireless network infrastructure unit a few weeks ago, selling it to Nokia Siemens Networks for $1.2 billion.
And, in an example of what goes around comes around, Motorola's former Semiconductor Products Sector unit, which was spun off in an IPO as Freescale Semiconductor in 2004, was taken private but is now a candidate for an IPO again. Freescale CEO Rich Beyer has been trimming payrolls and closing plants in anticipation of floating a new IPO for the firm, according to investment banking analysts.
Motorola's earlier attempts to find a buyer for its mobile phone operation failed so the company decided to rebuild the operation from the ground up and include Motorola's set top box operation in the unit. While the mobile phone unit is the glamorous remaining piece of Motorola, its networking equipment operation continues as a more mundane but profitable operation.