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Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan says FirstEnergy worth defending amid takeover concerns

Mayor says investor Carl Icahn’s interest in embattled company deserves attention because jobs and power grid at stake.

CLEVELAND — Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan is encouraged by the news that Goodyear is growing with the purchase of Cooper Tire. But he’s worried about another hometown company -- embattled FirstEnergy, now the subject of takeover fears.

Activist, investor, and billionaire Carl Icahn recently announced plans to buy up to $980 million of FirstEnergy stock. That has Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan speaking out and speaking up for the utility.

“I don't like sitting on the sidelines and saying, 'well, we could have done something,'” Horrigan told 3News on Monday.” What is our role in this? And, you know, it's not only, it's not only city of Akron, it is Summit County, it is Northeast Ohio and is the State of Ohio because they are obviously a large employer.”

RELATED: Goodyear acquires Cooper in all-American tire combination

Icahn has earned a reputation for hostile takeovers, grabbing vulnerable companies and breaking them up or selling them.

“So, I'm certainly willing to meet with the investors and Mr. Icahn to gauge their intent about what the plans are for FirstEnergy,” Horrigan said. “It's that important to us.”

Icahn’s intentions are unclear, but his stock purchase would give him significant power over the company, which employees 2,000 people locally.

“It's really hard to play economic chicken with Fortune 500 companies,” Horrigan said. “And, so they have been they've been here for a lot, obviously well over one hundred years. They're intertwined to our success when it comes to the region and the city of Akron.”

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Though a bribery and political scandal is weighing down FirstEnergy, its jobs and services remain critical, the mayor said.

“If he sees value there, we want to make sure those intentions are always good and that they benefit not only that the shareholders and the investors, but obviously those key people that depend on that service every day.”

Editor's note: the video in the player below is from a story published on October 29, 2020.