Icahn keeps upping his stake

Billionaire's Lionsgate share raised to 17.7%

Carl Icahn has remained on the hunt for Lionsgate, boosting his stake this week to 17.7% from 17.2%, according to a regulatory filing.

Icahn has said in the past that he doesn’t plan to launch a takeover battle for the mini-major, but he’s questioned whether Lionsgate has the liquidity to meet obligations that could be triggered if any shareholder owns 20% of the stock.

Icahn disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday that he had acquired 608,239 shares at prices between $5.26 and $5.43 a share in two purchases.

In recent months, Icahn’s gradually increased his stake toward the 20% level. He currently holds 20.72 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 owns just short of 20%.

Shares of Lionsgate rose 16¢ to $5.61 in trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reps for Lionsgate and Icahn had no immediate comment.

Icahn’s been critical of Lionsgate management for overuse 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.

Icahn tried unsuccessfully this year to buy $325 million worth of debt but elicited little interest among bondholders for the discounted offer, which expired on May 1. Earlier this year, the company refused to give a board seat to Icahn, and it recently agreed to sell half of the TV Guide Network assets to investors led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Allen Shapiro.

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