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Carl Icahn cuts Hain Celestial stake in half

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. (AP) -- The Hain Celestial Group Inc., which owns organic and natural foods brands such as Earth's Best and Arrowhead Mills, said Tuesday that Carl Icahn is cutting his stake in the company by half to about 7.5 percent.

The company said shareholders, including those tied to Icahn, plan to sell nearly 3.7 million Hain shares in an offering. Underwriters also have been granted an option to purchase an additional 547,500 shares to cover excess demand. Sellers will be benefiting from the stock's more than 60 percent increase since the start of this year. Bottoming at a 52-week low of $51.51 at the end of 2012, Hain shares recently peaked last month at $85.48.

Hain Celestial will not receive any proceeds from the offering.

As of June, Icahn held 7.2 million Hain Celestial shares, a roughly 15 percent stake. The company said that Icahn will own nearly 3.6 million shares after the stock sale is complete. Icahn is an activist investor and head of the investment firm Icahn Enterprises LP.

Hain Celestial, based in Lake Success, N.Y., also owns brands including Celestial Seasonings, MaraNatha and Soy Dream. The company reported in August that its fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 11 percent, helped by acquisitions, to beat market expectations.

Shares of the company fell $2.23, or nearly 3 percent, in after-hours trading to $79.65 following the announcement. Its stock added 10 cents to close regular trading at $81.88.