Carl Icahn

Carl Icahn on Thursday said he was happy he won what most observers would argue was the most heated tête-à-tête featuring two of the titans of activism, the billionaire activist's five-year-old battle with embattled insurgent Bill Ackman over the future of nutritional supplement company Herbalife (HLF) .

Through multiple presentations and Q&A sessions, starting in December 2012, Ackman had argued that Herbalife was a pyramid scheme with a worthless stock that should trade at zero. Ackman, according to sources, closed out his 5-year-old $1 billion Herbalife short position earlier this week deep in the red. Alternatively, Icahn, who began accumulating an equity position shortly thereafter, has argued over the years that the business made sense and that it provided a lot of people with jobs.

"The model works, especially if it really catches on in China," Icahn said in an interview with TheStreet's sister publication The Deal. "The model is a good model and it provides a lot of people jobs and is a way of getting to the consumer. I don't see what the problem is."

Icahn, posted returns of about $1 billion on his investment so far at Herbalife, according to people familiar with the situation. That stands in stark contrast to The Deal's calculation -- employing public documents and estimations --  that Ackman lost roughly $740 million when he liquidated his short position in October. The embattled activist may more recently have lost much more as his put positions expired along with Herbalife's rising share price. 

In a statement, Icahn said Ackman put up a great fight but that he was happy he had won. He added that he wished Ackman well but that the company was much better off without the distraction.

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Editor's note: A version of this article was originally published by The Deal, a sister publication of TheStreet that offers sophisticated insight and analysis on all types of deals, from inception to integration. Click here for a free trial.

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