Lionsgate Entertainment said Thursday that it will name long-time shareholder and former Carl Icahn protégé Mark Rachesky to its slate of board of directors nominees to be voted on at its upcoming annual shareholders meeting.
Rachesky, who through his MHR Fund Management investment vehicle is Lionsgate's largest individual shareholder with 19.8% of its outstanding stock, made news earlier this year when he refused to back Icahn in the latter's attempt at a hostile takeover of the company. Icahn had been accumulating Lionsgate shares for years but had become critical of management last year.
In October, vice chairman Michael Burns was forced to sell nearly half of his stake in the company to settle margin calls. That helped drive down Lionsgate's stock - it fell more than 41% ($3.83 per share) in 2008. Icahn began snapping up more stock and in March launched a tender offer for the company's convertible debt, which many saw as an attempt to gain additional shares.
However, after Rachesky - a former medical doctor who had been silent throughout the Icahn campaign and was expected to join forces with his former mentor - publicly threw his support to Lionsgate's management, Icahn's attempt to gain control of the studio fell short. The former corporate raider currently owns about 16.8% of the studio's stock.
"Dr. Rachesky is an investor who shares our vision for continued growth and diversification," Burns and Lionsgate co-chairman and CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a joint statement. "He brings a strong independent voice to our board as well as leadership in the wireless and digital media space that will be invaluable to our continuing evolution as a next generation studio."
MHR Fund Management will support management's slate of board of directors nominees at the upcoming annual shareholders meeting.