Could Lionsgate ward off Carl Icahn’s takeover attempt? Icahn’s certainly not backing down, as his debt offer illustrates. But shareholders are increasingly lining up behind management and the studio’s execs, Jon Feltheimer and Michael Burns, tell the LA Times that the takeover threat isn’t affecting their day-to-day management of the company.
“At the end of the day, there’s nothing relevant about this in terms of our business,” Feltheimer said.
Meanwhile, the studio’s vice chairman, former investment banker Michael Burns, is trying to drum up support among shareholders. But he doesn’t need to do much to win them over: major stakeholders like Gordon Crawford of Capital Research, who owns 9.5% of the studio, and Mark Rachesky have already said they support Lionsgate’s current management. The company’s biggest debtholder, John Kornitzer, is also backing Feltheimer and Burns.
LAT: “I like the management, I like the company,” said Kornitzer, whose Buffalo Funds owns about $90 million worth of convertible bonds and nearly 4 million shares of common stock. “I wish Icahn would just go crawl under a rock. . . . I’m not going to sell him any [expletive] bonds.”
Still, Lionsgate is taking the takeover threat seriously, spending $2 million on its team of lawyers, bankers and proxy solicitation and public relations firms, the Times reports. And Icahn’s gate-rattling may not be disturbing Feltheimer and Burns, but it does concern talent agents, who are worried about who will run the studio handling their clients’ projects.
Feltheimer is reportedly assuring the agents that “we’ll be here and it hasn’t stopped any deal, any movie or any television show from going forward.” Indeed, Lionsgate has been announcing deals left and right, booking new Tyler Perry movies and acquiring The Hunger Games and From Paris With Love—anything to shift the focus away from the barbarian at the gate.
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