Icahn extends $7-per-share offer to buy Lions Gate until June 1 after latest deadline reached

Friday, May 21, 2010

Icahn extends offer for Lions Gate again

NEW YORK — Billionaire and activist investor Carl Icahn said Friday he’s extending his offer to buy Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. until June 1, after the latest deadline approached with too few shareholders on board.

Icahn owns almost 19 percent of Lions Gate shares, and has been in a battle for control of the boutique movie and TV studio since last March. Icahn objects to Lions Gate’s interest in acquiring another studio. Lions Gate was interested in buying Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., but dropped out of the bidding.

Icahn wants to rein in the studio’s spending and has said shareholders should vote on an acquisition. He has argued against buying another studio and the library of older titles that come with it.

The activist investor had raised his offer from $6 per share to $7 per share in March, but was again rebuffed by Lions Gate as too low. Icahn has extended his offers several times; the most recent deadline was Friday.

Lions Gate had attempted to adopt measures that would make buying the studio financially unpalatable for Icahn, but regulators in Canada where the studio is based thwarted the plan.

The studio has since set aside $16 million in a trust for top executives, to be paid in the event they were let go as part of a takeover.

Icahn is conditioning his buyout bid on winning at least 50.1 percent of the stock in the company, which is based in Vancouver but operates out of Santa Monica, California.

As of Friday, Icahn said 4.6 million Lions Gate shares had been tendered, less than 4 percent of the company’s 117.8 million outstanding shares. That’s lower than the 6.6 million shares, or about 5.6 percent, that he said had been tendered at the end of April.

Lions Gate shares slid 3 cents to close Friday at $6.81.

Lions Gate is based in Vancouver and operates out of Santa Monica, California. It was behind the Oscar-winning movie “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire.” It also owns the TV Guide network and produced TV shows including “Weeds” and “Nurse Jackie.”

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