Corporate raider takes hostile takeover bid for studio to the Web
Carl Icahn’s hostile bid to take over Lionsgate just got a bit more hostile — and it’s heading to the Web.
Icahn launched a Web site — SaveLionsGate.com — on Monday, featuring a nifty logo (left) alongside the corporate raider’s argument (entitled “Why Change is Needed at Lions Gate”) to the studio's shareholders he covets.
In the 27-page presentation, Icahn discloses what he calls the “unvarnished facts” — portions of private, potentially embarassing e-mails and texts between Lionsgate executives Mark Rachesky and Michael Burns on the studio’s strategy top thwart the takeover. For what it’s worth, they make for some fascination, inside-studio reading.
Rachesky to Burns on Lionsgate’s legal team: “You need to be the quarterback. I can only fail because you don’t put enough effort in dealing with all these crazy lawyers’ egos. They are not on the same page yet.”
Burns to Rachesky: “They will be. … Beating s— out of lawyers. Making progress.”
“These are our directors,” Icahn wrote in an accompanying letter to Lionsgate shareholders. “They are supposed to be safeguarding our assets. Shareholders, would you want these guys running your family business, let alone Lions Gate?”
Icahn’s site also compares his choices for Lionsgate’s board — former Overture chief Chris McGurk, former film executive Jay Firestone, former music executive Michael Dornemann, lawyer Daniel Ninivaggi and former Princeton president Harold Shapiro, the former president of Princeton — with the current crop: Burns, Rachesky, G. Scott Paterson, Hardwick “Wick” Simmons, and Harald Ludwig.
A vote on directors will take place at Lionsgate's annual meeting on Dec. 14.
Icahn owns about 33 percent of the company. He has been engaged in a hostile takeover bid for the Vancouver based studio for much of the past year.
Lionsgate responded to Icahn's nominees by trashing his ability to lead: "Mr. Icahn has not articulated a vision for Lionsgate regarding how he would improve on these results and his nominees provide no further clarity on the critical issue of leading Lionsgate into the future."
As a whole, the rebel slate represents a patchwork of Icahn loyalists and industry veterans. McGurk is easily the most recognizable industry name on Icahn's list. Last week, TheWrap reported that in exchange for his participation in Icahn's bid, McGurk is hoping to receive support for the CEO job at Blockbuster — the bankrupt video chain in which Icahn is a leading creditor.
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