What’s next for Lions Gate?

March 12, 2009

Last week, it had seemed like Lions Gate and Carl Icahn were heading to an amicable settlement (in other words, Icahn was close to getting his way because the independent film and television studio was leaning toward giving him a board seat or two).

But things obviously soured, because talks broke down, raising the specter of a proxy fight for control of Lions Gate.

From Icahn: “Discussions have been terminated because agreement could not be reached concerning certain aspects of the standstill agreement that Lions Gate demanded as a condition of installing those board members.:

From Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns: “Over the past three weeks, our board of directors has been in discussions with Mr Icahn to consider how we could accommodate some of his requests, including the possible appointment of his designees to the board of directors. However, the board ultimately concluded that it could not meet his requests…”

It seems Icahn wanted too much.

Last year, when the billionaire investor wedged himself in between Yahoo and Microsoft and threatened a proxy fight against Yahoo, the Internet company caved and gave him board seats. We haven’t heard a peep out of Icahn since on that front.

But clearly, things are going to be different for Lions Gate. There have been press reports lately that the corporate raider had begun buying up MGM debt in hopes of forcing a merger between rivals MGM and Lions Gate. That kind of back-door entry didn’t work for EchoStar’s Charlie Ergen in his pursuit of Sirius XM, because Liberty Media’s John Malone rode in on his steed at the nick of time.

If a similar scenario unfolded at Lions Gate, who’d be the white knight?

Keep an eye on:

  • PR firms grow amid marketing gloom. (Financial Times)
  • No one knows which will be the first big city without a large newspaper, but there are candidates across the U.S. (The New York Times)
  • AOL closes China R&D unit, sheds 56 jobs. (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

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