Icahn fattens Lionsgate stake

Billionaire shareholder continues ownership hike

Carl Icahn has continued to stalk Lionsgate, nudging up his stake this week to 17.2% from 16.9%, according to a regulatory filing.

The billionaire, who began buying Lionsgate shares in 2005, hasn’t disclosed his specific intentions toward the mini-major. Ownership of more than 20% could cause a default on Lionsgate’s $340 million revolving credit line under the company’s change of control provisions.

Icahn disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday that he had acquired 492,482 shares at prices between $5.22 and $5.38 a share in three purchases this week.

The most recent stock buys follow a similar pattern in recent months, with Icahn gradually upping his stake toward the 20% level. Icahn currently holds 20.11 million shares, nearly double the 10.8 million held at the start of the year, and has become the second-largest shareholder after Mark Rachesky, a former Icahn associate who supports management and who increased his holding in March to just short of 20%.

Shares of Lionsgate rose 18 cents to $5.45 in trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reps for Lionsgate and Icahn had no immediate comment.

Icahn’s been critical of Lionsgate management over the use of its revolving credit line for its $255 millon purchase of the TV Guide network and websites and has urged the mini-major to cut costs.

Earlier this year, the company refused to give a board seat to Icahn, and it recently agreed to sell half of the TV Guide assets to investors led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Allen Shapiro. Lionsgate cut 38 jobs at TV Guide earlier this month along with eliminating 45 jobs in March and 41 slots in November.

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