Lions Gate Blinks in Busy Week for Icahn

Last week, the Lions Gate movie studio, embroiled in a vicious fight to fend off takeover attempts by corporate raider Carl Icahn, announced some sort of a truce.


It looks like Lions Gate blinked least for now.

Last week, the movie studio, embroiled in a vicious fight to fend off takeover attempts by septuagenarian corporate raider cum activist hedge fund manager Carl Icahn, announced some sort of a truce.

It said in a regulatory filing on Friday that the two parties agreed “to work together on certain acquisition opportunities.” Alas, this only applies to a 10-day period from July 9 through July 19.

Still, Lions Gate also agreed to refrain from “specified actions” during that period. In a letter to Icahn made public in a regulatory filing, Lions Gate vice chairman Michael Burns elaborated that the company will not issue any securities or enter into any agreement with any member of its board of directors, negotiate a deal to issue more than 5 percent of its shares except if the two parties agree to it, or arrange for or encourage any other person or entity to purchase securities of Lions Gate.

The company also agreed not set a record date for its 2010 annual meeting for the next 45 days.The agreement is surely a humbling experience for Burns and his colleagues, who all along were seemingly taunting Icahn for failing to gain enough shares in his tender offer, which was extended four times.

Who has the upper hand now?

Perhaps the Lions Gate folks should have taken the attitude of Irwin Simon, CEO of Hain Celestial, who recently told CNBC: “He’s created a lot of value out there and created a lot of wealth for himself and maybe I can get a little of that too.”

Last week, Simon also made a deal with Icahn. Under their deal, Icahn’s son Brett Icahn and David Schechter were appointed to Hain’s Board and were added to management’s slate of nominees at the 2010 annual meeting. Icahn, who owns 11.9 percent of the shares, also agreed not to launch a proxy fight at the meeting and to vote up to eight additional persons being nominated by Hain.

“Hain has a strong portfolio of brands that position it well for a continuing secular shift towards organic and all natural foods and consumer packaged goods,” Icahn said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the current board and management toward enhancing stockholder value.”

Also last week, Icahn reported he upped his stake in Mentor Graphics to 11.9 percent through the purchase of call options. In a regulatory filing the prior week — June 30 — Icahn said he had met with management of the company and looks forward to further conversations “to maximize shareholder value.”

Keep in mind that Icahn earlier said in a filing he hoped to meet with management. Obviously, the folks at Hain and Mentor sped up the inevitable process that the Lions Gate crowd thought they could avoid.

Not too shabby for a four-day work week, especially for a septuagenarian, huh?