MARK CUBAN THROWS IN WITH CARL ICAHN
Carl Icahn’s effort to gain control of Lions Gate Entertainment received a big boost Thursday from fellow billionaire Mark Cuban. In interviews with CNBC and the New York Post Cuban, the owner of HDNet, Landmark Theaters, and the Dallas Mavericks, said that he will sell his 5.4 percent stake in the company to Icahn for $7.00 a share. “I think it’s the right decision for me to make with my shares,” Cuban told The Post. The newspaper said that together with the roughly 4 percent of Lionsgate shareholders who have tendered their shares to Icahn since he made his offer, Cuban’s stake would raise Icahn’s holdings in the company to 28 percent. An additional 5 percent would put him in the company’s driver’s seat. On Thursday, Icahn lashed out again at the company’s management after its Lionsgate movie division saw only so-so results for last weekend’s opening of Killers, starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. “These guys have done nothing but squander $70 million producing Killers,” he said. “The company seems to be ignoring the fact that it might be going into default.” Indeed, with Icahn’s additional holdings, the company would technically be in default of the terms of its $340-million revolving credit facility with JPMorgan Chase. However, the bank would likely grant a waiver, most analysts have observed. A spokesman for Lions Gate said Thursday that if Cuban does accept the offer from Icahn, he would be “leaving money on the table,” suggesting that the company would be willing to offer him more than $7.00. Lions Gate stock was trading at $7.04 in early trading today.