Sunday, February 21, 2010

Carl Icahn

Carl Icahn said this week that he is not seeking control of Lions Gate Enetrtainment, but he is looking to increase his stake therein because he remains skeptical of the management's buying-binge tendencies.

In the past, Icahn has criticized Lions Gate for paying $255 million to buy TV Guide. As you may recall, I've had my eye on the Icahn-Lion relationship for some time, hoping that some fireworks may result.

You'll see a stock chart above. It shows the price rise when Icahn was increasing his share of the company Tuesday, then the decline on Thursday when he announced he doesn't want to buy it. He evidently broke some hearts there.

It isn't Icahn's favored M.O. to acquire a company outright. At one time he was known as a "greenmailer," i.e. he would threaten to cause trouble in the boardroom unless he received a chunk of money. Receiving same, he would sell his share silently and go away happy.

Would he quarrel with that description of his own old (1980s) methods? I doubt it. In the article to which I just linked you, a Forbes magazine piece from four years ago, Icahn is quoted as saying, "Now there is no greenmail." So formerly there was ... right?

Anyway, activist investors nowadays like to remain minority investors, with a large enough stake to allow them to press for specific measures that will increase the value of that stake. I'm sure Icahn would rather Lions Gate be taken over rather than that it do the taking.

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