The Carl Icahn vs Lionsgate proxy war heated up overnight. That’s because two major proxy advisory firms counseled shareholders to support the entire or majority of Icahn’s dissident slate of directors for the embattled TV/film studio. A Lionsgate insider acknowledged to me that the recommendations were a “mixed bag” for the company. But Icahn trumpeted the news in advance of the December 14th shareholders meeting in Los Angeles.
The proxy advisory firm Egan-Jones, which provides independent voting recommendations, stated: “We feel that is imperative that the Dissidents be heavily represented on the Board … and that voting the dissidents’ ballot is in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders.” Icahn, naturally, was pleased. “The actions of Lionsgate’s Board speak for themselves as does the company’s and its stock’s performance,” he said in a statement.
Another major shareholder advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended to shareholders they approve 3 of Icahn’s five nominated board members: film executive Jay Firestone, lawyer Daniel A. Ninivaggi, and former Bertelsmann entertainment executive Michael Dornemann. However, ISS nixed ex-Overture boss Chris McGurk and former Princeton president Harold Shapiro.
Icahn himself issued a statement saying he was pleased by the recommendations, noting: “$100 invested in Lions Gate stock five years ago would be worth $56 today. If you had put that same $100 into an NYSE composite index, it would have been worth $117. If you had put it in my hedge fund, it would be worth $145. If you put it under your mattress, you at least would have still had your original $100. It is time for a change.”