Carl Icahn denies getting head's up on Trump tariffs

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn says he sold $3.1 million in stock in a Wisconsin company that relies on imported steel for "legitimate investment reasons" unrelated to a White House plan to impose tariffs on the metal.

"Any suggestion that we had prior knowledge of the Trump administration's announcement of new tariffs on steel imports is categorically untrue," Icahn said in a statement on Wednesday.

The response came after Icahn's sale of shares in Manitowoc Company (MTW) came under media scrutiny. 

First reported by progressive blog ThinkProgress and disclosed in a regulatory filing, Icahn began selling shares in the company, which makes cranes and other equipment, on Feb. 12, four days before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released a report calling for a 24 percent tariff on imported steel.

Icahn, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, eventually sold nearly 1 million Manitowoc shares. Shares of the company took a double-digit hit after Mr. Trump said he would inflict a 25 percent tariff on steel imports.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, declined to comment when asked if the regulatory agency was looking into the timing of the sales. 

Icahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding why he divested his holdings in Manitowoc.

The investor, long known for buying stakes in public companies and pressuring management to make changes that boost their stock price, had not actively traded Manitowoc stock up until February, ThinkProgress noted.

Icahn resigned from his post as a "special adviser" to the president in August, ahead of a 2017 New Yorker article claiming he used his White House position to shield his investments. 

-- Jillian Harding contributed to the report