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Normally chatty Icahn falls silent on Las Vegas investment

Investor Carl Icahn speaks at the Wall Street Journal Deals & Deal Makers conference, held at the New York Stock Exchange, June 27, 2007. REUTERS/Chip East

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

NEW YORK, Nov 19 - Carl Icahn is seldom at a loss for words.

The billionaire investor has called certain corporate boards "dictatorships," likened some U.S. corporate executive to back-slapping fraternity boys and described a rival fund manager as a "cry baby."

But after having crossed sabers with some of the world's biggest companies, Icahn fell silent several times during a recent interview at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit.

Ichan declined to say what he might plan to do with a multi-million-dollar investment in Las Vegas and declined to say where money-seeking activist strategies might want to go.

By now, potential plans for the Fontainebleau Resort in Las Vegas are a hot topic of discussion, especially after Icahn paid $150 million three years ago to bring the property out of bankruptcy but has let it sit idle ever since.

The hulking building sits empty and unfinished on the Las Vegas Strip, sparking speculation that buyers are circling to take it off of Icahn's hands to level it and start over.

Normally to someone like Icahn time is money, and he's never been shy about expressing his opinions. In fact, he speaks expansively about topics close to his heart, including activist investing.

He said activism is the kind of strategy that helps not only big-ticket investors like himself but society at large by rooting out poor management and forcing CEOs to look at strategies differently.

But he was less willing to tell people where they might go to access such returns.

With his own fund closed to outside investors and many of the new activists also turning away new clients, Icahn was tempted to give some advice. But one of his many legal advisers interrupted, rendering Icahn mum.

Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter @Reuters_Summits

(For other news from Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit, click on http://www.reuters.com/summit/Investment13)

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Leslie Adler)