Shuffling the deck

Icahn, Antioco play their cards as vote looms

Cards, anyone?

Blockbuster’s hotly anticipated annual meeting today in Dallas will pit the company’s white proxy card listing its board nominees against Carl Icahn’s aptly hued gold card, on which shareholders can vote for a trio of dissident directors.

Icahn, attempting to oust Blockbuster chief John Antioco and shift the vidtailer’s strategic direction, has put himself and longtime entertainment execs Ed Bleier and Strauss Zelnick on an alternate ballot. It’s an unusual move and a nailbiter.

The two major proxy advisory services, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, have recommended that shareholders vote for Bleier and Zelnick but not for Icahn, questioning his commitment to the company.

ISS thinks chairman-CEO Antioco, who is up for re-election to the board, should stay; Glass Lewis thinks he should go. Latter said in a statement Monday, “If Blockbuster was a movie, it would be an expensive flop.”

Blockbuster Tuesday explained to shareholders how they could vote both the white and the gold cards if, say, they wanted to elect Bleier and Zelnick, as well as Antioco for the three spots up for grabs. But company continued “to strongly urge stockholders to vote Blockbuster’s white card in favor of Mr. Antioco and company’s two other incumbent directors” also up for re-election, Linda Griego and Peter Bassi.

Icahn faults Blockbuster management for walking away from its bid for Hollywood Entertainment, which was sold to a smaller rival. He’s not happy with Blockbuster’s heavy spending to compete with online rival Netflix or the heavy costs of a new policy eliminating late fees.