Carl Icahn now owns enough shares in Lions Gate Entertainment to call the shots in many of the company's dealings, after raising his stake to 37.9 percent by buying 4.6 million shares of the company on the open market Wednesday after his tender offer closed on Tuesday. He will now be able -- if he so chooses -- to block any attempt by studio executives to acquire MGM. Icahn has not indicated whether he intends to buy additional shares on the open market in order to increase his ownership to more than 50 percent, which would give him effective control of the company. His enhanced stake technically triggers a change-of-control clause in the contracts of CEO Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns, who now have the option of leaving the company with severance payments that together would be worth $16 million. Each man, however, has assured the Lions Gate board, that they plan to stay on to continue their battle with Icahn. Late Thursday, the board adopted what it called a Shareholder Rights Plan, a type of "poison pill" defense that, if approved by U.S. and Canadian regulators, would block Icahn from engaging in a "creeping takeover" of the company against the will of the majority of its board

02/07/2010