Icahn vs Lions Gate heating up

March 18, 2009

Not so fast Mr. Icahn. Lions Gate Entertainment is trying to defend itself against famed financier Carl Icahn by hiring an advisory team, including investment bank Morgan Stanley and the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz.

It also is in talks to offer a board seat to Mark Rachesky of MHR Fund Management, the studio’s largest shareholder.

Icahn controls 14.5 percent of Lions Gate’s shares and wants to increase his sway, seemingly because he’s frustrated with things like costs and the company’s decision to buy the TV Guide cable channel.

All this has set up a potential proxy fight – perhaps a nasty one.

Who is the smart money on? Hard to tell. Icahn is an old hand at these things, but given Lions Gate’s moves on Tuesday — it also hired Joele Frank Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher, a public relations firm that built a reputation advising companies involved in hostile deals – it looks like they aren’t about to back down.

A showdown could be coming.

Keep an eye on:

  • Discovery Communications  has sued Amazon.com, accusing the online retailer’s Kindle of infringing its patent on electronic book technology (Reuters)
  • Hollywood labor leaders are considering sending out strike-authorization ballots unless negotiations with advertisers on a new commercials contract improve quickly (The Hollywood Reporter)

(Photo: Reuters)

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