Lionsgate appeals poison pill rescission

Minimajor responds to Canadian regulators' decision

Lionsgate has appealed the decision by Canadian regulators to rescind its poison pill defense, aimed at blocking Carl Icahn’s hostile takeover attempt.

The minimajor made the announcement Wednesday, a day after the British Columbia Securities Commission’s decision to void the Lionsgate Shareholder Rights Plan. The company said its appeal will be heard Monday and disclosed that its board has re-scheduled its shareholders meeting to vote on the pill from May 4 to May 12.

Meanwhile, Icahn praised the commission’s ruling. “Lionsgate shareholders should have the right to decide for themselves whether they wish to sell their shares in our tender offer,” he said in a statement.

The poison-pill provision had been designed to dilute the value of Icahn’s shares if he exceeds a 20% stake.

Icahn, who owns 19% of Lionsgate and has been seeking to oust the current management, has been campaigning for his $7 a share offer, which expires Friday. Icahn upped his offer from $6 a share earlier this month.

The announcement came after the stock market closed. Shares of Lionsgate jumped 25¢ in Wednesday trading to $6.87 in a signal that investors believe Icahn may sweeten his bid again — a move that analysts believe Icahn will have to make if he wants to obtain control.

Lionsgate’s latest announcement repeated the company’s accusations that Icahn’s a short-term opportunist who’s unwilling to let management’s strategy work, calling his offer “financially inadequate, opportunistic and coercive.”

Lionsgate and Icahn have been blasting each other for weeks with the investor asserting that the company’s over-spending and has “failed” shareholders. Shares have gained 24% this year but remain well below their highs in 2007.

“Lionsgate believes that there are shareholders who, without the protection of the Shareholder Rights Plan, may be coerced to tender into the offer,” Lionsgate said. “The company wants to provide shareholders an opportunity to obtain the information necessary to make an informed and non-coerced decision.”

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