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Carl Icahn, the activist investor planning a proxy fight for control of Time Warner, has called on the media conglomerate’s board to give detailed information as to why it rejected a proposal to split the company.
The demands follow revelations by Steve Case, former Time Warner chairman and co-founder of AOL, that he suggested in July that Time Warner be broken up into four parts. He had concluded that efforts to integrate the group’s internet, cable and content businesses had failed.
Mr Icahn, who together with a group of hedge funds controls about 3 per cent of Time Warner shares, said he agreed with Mr Case’s conclusion that it was time to “liberate” each business.
“Investors need to understand what level of debate actually occurred at the board [and] what type of analysis was conducted,” Mr Icahn said in a statement.
The group of dissident shareholders has hired Lazard, the investment bank, to analyse Time Warner and whether it should be split into different businesses.
Their attention on Time Warner follows years of poor performance of its share price, a problem affecting many other media companies.
Dick Parsons, chairman and chief executive of Time Warner, has defended the conglomerate structure of the group and the benefits of having content and distribution businesses under one roof.
Mr Parsons has predicted that other media companies which are breaking up, like Viacom, are likely to regroup again.
Although few Time Warner shareholders have publicly backed Mr Icahn, others not directly involved in his group said they would also like more information about Time Warner’s deliberations regarding a change in its structure.
“We ought to know more about what Steve Case proposed,” said Morris Mark, president of Mark Asset Management, which owns over 1m shares in Time Warner.
“It is common sense – if there is a good substantive reason why the proposal was rejected, we would like to know about it.”
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