Donald Trump names billionaire Carl Icahn to advise on regulatory reform

Billionaire Carl Icahn in a 2012 file photo.
Billionaire Carl Icahn in a 2012 file photo.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday (Dec 21) he is naming billionaire Carl Icahn, a vocal critic of government overregulation, to serve as a special adviser to overhaul "strangling regulations."

The 80-year-old Icahn, who is known as aggressive, activist investor in the companies he is involved with, will not be a government employee, will not receive a salary and will not be bound by ethics rules requiring him to divest his investments.

Icahn already reportedly helped Trump pick candidates to fill his Cabinet, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Carl was with me from the beginning and with his being one of the world's great businessmen, that was something I truly appreciated," Trump said in a statement.

"He is not only a brilliant negotiator, but also someone who is innately able to predict the future especially having to do with finances and economies. His help on the strangling regulations that our country is faced with will be invaluable."

Icahn said that, "Under President Obama, America's business owners have been crippled by over US$1 trillion in new regulations and over 750 billion hours dealing with paperwork.

"It's time to break free of excessive regulation and let our entrepreneurs do what they do best: create jobs and support communities."

Like Trump, Icahn is a New York City native. He began his career on Wall Street in 1961, and has held substantial or controlling positions in numerous American companies over the years, including RJR Nabisco, Texaco, Philips Petroleum, Western Union, Gulf & Western, Viacom, Revlon, Time Warner, Motorola, Chesapeake Energy, Dell, Netflix, Apple, and eBay.

Icahn also owned the last glitzy Trump casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Trump Taj Mahal, until it finally failed a closed last month, after going through two bankruptcy reorganisations since it opened in 1990.

Icahn took over the casino in 2014, but said it had lost US$350 million (S$500 million) over just a few short years.