2010.38 Carl Icahn Sues Lions Gate and Rechesky over Debt to Equity Deal: Why Good Advisors Matter When Contemplating M&A

The ten-day truce between Carl Icahn and Lions Gate management is very clearly over.

Icahn has let it be known that he doesn’t support the merger discussions between Lions Gate and MGM.

On July 20, Icahn also launched a new takeover offer for Lions Gate common stock at $6.50 per share, lower than his previous $7.00 offer. The offer is contingent on management not entering into a major transaction outside the normal course of business. The tender offer will expire August 25; Icahn will then nominate a slate of directors to replace Lions Gate’s current board. The election will occur at the company’s annual board meeting; most likely in October.

Lions Gate, in an effort to reduce debt, issued common shares at $6.20 per share to retire $100 million in convertible debt, the stock price represented a 2.8% premium to Monday’s share price. Icahn’s holdings were reduced to about 33.5% from 37.9%. The move doesn’t only dilute Icahn; it dilutes all existing shareholders. The 16.2 million new shares went to Mark Rachesky (MHR Fund Management), who already held almost 20% of the company’s common shares; his percentage is now 29%. The debt, due in 2026 and 2027, was acquired from Kornitzer Capital. Kornitzer also owns a small number of Lions Gate shares which he hasn’t tendered to Icahn.

Icahn must now acquire almost another 17% of shares to accomplish his takeover goal – assuming that management doesn’t convert more debt to equity.

This morning Icahn filed a law suit in New York state court against Lions Gate and Mark Rachesky seeking damages, an injunction rescinding the debt-to-equity swap and the prohibition of the defendants from voting their shares in a vote to elect directors. Icahn also filed a petition to the Supreme Court of British Columbia – a hearing to be held on Wednesday – regarding whether to grant orders against Lions Gate and Rachesky. Both sides are engaging in some general public mud slinging; the specifics of their accusations won’t be covered herein.

The battle continues. Lions Gate stock closed at $6.90 today, July 26.

The fight over Lions Gate reflects the importance of good advisors. Both sides are now exploring creative transactions and strategies to ensure that the outcome of this M&A battle is in their favor. Clearly the bankers and lawyers involved are working hard on behalf of their respective clients.

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