Carl Icahn on Thursday said he will continue to buy shares and pursue a proxy battle for control over Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. The studio responded with one its strongest attacks on the activist investor to date.
As a result of his $7-per-share tender offer, Icahn said that he now controls roughly 32 percent of common shares of the specialty film and TV studio, which has it main operations in Santa Monica but corporate headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia. The offer expired last night, but Icahn will continue to buy shares at that price until June 30.
The tender offer gained the Icahn Group nearly 15.6 million shares, around 13 percent of outstanding shares, on top of the nearly 19 percent he already controlled. Icahn said he paid more than $109 million for the tendered shares.
"We are pleased with the results of our tender offer," Icahn said in a statement.
In a statement this morning, the studio pointed out that holders of more than 68 percent of shares continue to reject Icahn’s offer.
“Ultimately, Carl Icahn’s inflammatory rhetoric cannot obscure two simple facts: the Icahn Group’s $7 a share offer remains financially inadequate,” Lions Gate said. “Carl Icahn has no coherent strategy for the company. His failures at Blockbuster and his former film distribution company, Stratosphere, show that he does not understand the media space. He is looking to seize control of Lions Gate with a financially inadequate, coercive and opportunistic bid.”
The company continued to urge shareholders not to sell their shares during Icahn’s follow-on period, and said executives were in “advanced discussions” with its lenders to prevent a default on the company’s debt.
There have been concerns that Icahn, by gaining more than 20 percent control of shares, would trigger change-of-control provisions in the employment contracts of senior management. In turn, that could cause the company’s lenders to demand immediate repayment. The studio has been working with JPMorgan Chase to obtain a waiver to prevent this.
Lions Gate shares were up 5 cents, or less than a percent, to $6.98 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
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