Icahn's Overwrought Time Warner Assault
I've been a fan of Carl Icahn for a while, but I have to say I'm a bit disappointed in the stance he's taking on Time Warner (TWX). But let me be clear, I agree with Icahn on one critically important issue: Time Warner shares are a buy here.
First off, let's summarize what Icahn has been suggesting to Time Warner's management and the actions he's taken:
In August, he announced he was buying shares of Time Warner and had, alongside several hedge funds, accumulated 2.6% of the company. At the time, he specifically suggested that Time Warner increase its share-buyback program to $20 billion from $5 billion and completely spin off the cable division, as opposed to the 16% sliver that the company plans to spin off to the public.
A week later, he met with Dick Parsons, the CEO, and commended Parsons' stewardship on the company.Then on Tuesday, Oct. 11, he sent a more aggressive letter to the company in which he disclosed that his group now owns 2.8% of Time Warner shares, and he then launched a host of criticisms:
- He accused the company of selling Warner Music Group (WMG) at a fire-sale price.
- He accused the company of selling its 50% stake in Comedy Central at a fire sale price.
- He asked the (reasonable) question: If 12 of the 15 Time Warner directors voted for the disastrous AOL merger, why are many of these directors still on the board of Time Warner?
- He criticized the building of Time Warner's new headquarters in Manhattan's Columbus Circle, calling it "lavish."
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