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Icahn puts more stock in Lionsgate

Billionaire's stake in mini-major leaps 1.1%

Carl Icahn has boosted his stake in Lionsgate to 15.6% from 14.5% over the past month in a signal that he could still make a move to control the mini-major.

The billionaire, who first began acquiring Lionsgate shares four years ago, disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings Friday that he had acquired shares in May and June at prices between $5.37 and $5.46 a share.

Shares of Lionsgate declined 1¢ Friday to $5.46 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Icahn’s intentions toward Lionsgate are unclear after he attracted little interest in April and May from debtholders in his tender offer to acquire the company’s convertible debt. He said earlier this year that he was not pushing for a sale of Lionsgate, but he was critical of management for using the Lionsgate’s revolving credit line to pay for TV Guide.

Lionsgate announced on May 28 that it had agreed to sell a 49% stake in TV Guide Network and the TV Guide Online biz for $123 million to JPMorgan Chase’s One Equity Partners and Allen Shapiro.

Icahn is now the second-largest shareholder. Mark Rachesky, a former Icahn associate who supports management, increased his holding in March to just short of 20%, while Steinberg Asset Management has a 14.9% stake and Capital Research has a 9.5% position.

Lionsgate reported last week a loss of $163 million on revenue of $1.47 billion for its fiscal year ended March 31 due to disappointing feature releases in the fiscal second and third quarters and a $36.1 million charge on its deal to distribute DVDs for Hit Entertainment.

On the heels of that downbeat report, Lionsgate toppers said they see cash flow surging to $75 million in fiscal 2010 from a $133 million loss and the film slate, which lost $125 million in fiscal 2009, swinging to a profit of around $138 million in 2010.

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