Last week, Mark Rachesky, Lionsgate’s largest shareholder, came out in support of the studio’s management—a piece of news that came as a shock to many who believed he was in cahoots with his ex-boss Carl Icahn.
Rachesky stirred the pot even more when he said he might seek his own board seat at Lionsgate or propose the struggling studio make a transaction to increase shareholder value. So, who is this man who owns 19.9% of the independent studio?
Rachesky, 49, spent six years working for Icahn, including serving as a senior investment officer and chief investment advisor for his last three years at Icahn Holding Corporation. He left Icahn in 1996 and opened his own New York-based firm, MHR Fund Management, for which he still serves as president.
He first took a 5.9% stake in Lionsgate in August 2005, but he boosted his ownership to 14.1% as of last July and has rapidly increased the size of his position over the past two months—at the same time Icahn enhanced his own stake—after Lionsgate reported its disastrous third-quarter earnings. Up until last week, Rachesky’s investment in Lionsgate was passive, meaning he didn’t seek to influence the company’s operations. But now he’s an active investor in the studio.
Rachesky serves as chairman of the board for both satellite manufacturer and service company Loral Space & Communications and Leap Wireless, the discount mobile phone-service provider in which he has a 22.6% stake. As head of Leap’s board, a post he’s held since August 2004, he helped ward off a takeover bid in the fall of 2007 from Metro PCS. He’s also on the board of biopharmaceutical companies Emisphere Technologies and Neose Technologies and medical equipment and prescription distributor NationsHealth.
Rachesky and his wife Jill bought a $33.4 million, ninth floor duplex with four fireplaces and seven-and-a-half baths at 834 Fifth Avenue in Manahttan last October. The 24-unit, pre-war building, known for having one of the toughest co-op boards in Manhattan, is also home to Rupert Murdoch, former Salomon Brothers CEO John Gutfreund and New York Jets owner/heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, Woody Johnson. The couple also has a house in Southampton and runs a charitable foundation that provides grants to the UJA Federation of New York, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Trinity School and the University of Pennsylvania, from which Rachesky graduated with a B.S. in the molecular aspects of cancer.
He also has an MBA and an MD from Stanford, but he’s not licensed to practice medicine in the state of New York.
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