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Court lets Icahn take Marvel

NEW YORK — A federal judge declined to step in to keep dissident bondholders from taking control of Marvel Entertainment Inc. and the bondholders named new boards at both the comic-book publisher and its Toy Biz Inc. affiliate.

In a last attempt to maintain control of the ailing comic book maker, attorneys for Marvel Entertainment — currently controlled by Ronald Perelman — and its bank debtors, led by Chase Manhattan Corp. — failed in a teleconference with U.S. District Court Judge Roderick McKelvie late Friday to obtain a temporary restraining order preventing bondholders from appointing their own board of directors.

Bondholders, led by Carl Icahn, named the new board, as a previously imposed temporary restraining order expired Friday. The bondholders also named Joseph Calmari, a former Marvel executive vice president, as Marvel’s interim president, and Icahn as chairman of both Toy Biz and Marvel. The bondholders said they would “‘immediately conduct a review of Toy Biz strategy and options.”

Earlier Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Helen Balick declined to grant Marvel Entertainment and bank debtors a similar restraining order.

While both the bankruptcy and district courts have cleared the way for the bondholders’ board to take control, bank debtors could throw a wrench in the process.

Chase attorneys said in bankruptcy court Friday that the banks would consider moving a motion in court allowing the banks to seize the collateral securing their debt, threatening yet another round of litigation.

A Chase spokesman declined to comment.

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