Lionsgate: Icahn Group Has a Record of Value Destruction

Studio urges stakeholders to reject billionaire’s board slate and vote for its own nominees

With a week to go before a shareholder vote that will determine the leadership of Lionsgate, the war of words between the studio and Carl Icahn is getting nasty. 

In a note to stakeholders released Wednesday, the studio charged that Icahn's slate of renegade directors had a history of "value destruction." 

"With no vision, much less a strategy, for the future of Lionsgate, Mr. Icahn and his nominees pose a significant risk to Lionsgate if they obtain board representation," the note reads.

Lionsgate urged shareholders to vote for its own slate of nominees at the company's annual meeting on Dec. 14. 

A representative for Icahn did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment. However, the takeover specialist has been on the offensive this week. On Monday, he launched, which discloses portions of private, potentially embarassing e-mails and texts between Lionsgate executives Mark Rachesky and Michael Burns on the studio’s strategy to thwart the takeover.

Emboldened by Icahn's more muscular attacks, Lionsgate's latest missive does not spare the rod in  warning stockholders against the renegade investor and his loyalists. In deeply personal argument, the studio branded Icahn a "bitter bidder" and charged that his nominees either "have no relevant experience in the movie industry" or "have track records of failure." 

Icahn has been engaged in a hostile takeover bid for the company for much of the past year. Two weeks ago, Icahn submitted a slate of nominees that include former Overture chief Chris McGurk, former film executive Jay Firestone, former music executive Michael Dornemann, lawyer Daniel A. Ninivaggi and Harold T. Shapiro, the former president of Princeton.

In a lengthy letter chock full of charts and graphs, Lionsgate asserts, "Over the past 10 years, if you invested a dollar in the companies where Mr. Icahn or his representatives have secured board representation, outside the biopharmaceutical sector, and sold after they left the board, you would only have eighteen cents left of that dollar."

In particular, the studio's letter targets Icahn's tenure at the bankrupt home video chain Blockbuster and the distribution company Stratosphere as evidence of a spotty track record in the media sector. It also charges that McGurk, perhaps the most high profile of Icahn's nominees, was "fired" from Overture after a string of box office failures. 

Icahn currently owns 33 percent of the company. He has been engaged in various legal challenges seeking to overturn a debt for equity swap the studio made last summer that reduced his stake in the company from 38 percent.