Icahn to Press for Breakup of Time Warner

Jan 19, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Financier Carl Icahn, continuing to pressure Time Warner management to alter its business plan, is likely to press the media giant soon to completely spin off its cable and publishing businesses and enfold the remaining assets with an Internet portal.

The proposal, which was reported Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, is the latest chapter in an intensifying battle between Time Warner management and an investor group led by Mr. Icahn over the direction of the company. Mr. Icahn has been lobbying hard for Time Warner to take steps he believes will boost the company’s lagging stock price.

As Mr. Icahn sees it, a key component to boosting the stock price is to unlock the company’s value by breaking it up, following the strategy taken by Sumner Redstone’s Viacom late last year in which that company broke itself into two public companies.

According to the Journal, Mr. Icahn, who is also seeking representation on the Time Warner board, has held talks with several smaller Web portals about merging Time Warner’s film and television assets, along with its America Online unit. Details of the plan are expected later this month in a report to be completed by Mr. Icahn’s investment banking adviser, Lazard. It isn’t known which Web portals Mr. Icahn has consulted.

Mr. Icahn’s battle is expected to intensify in the coming weeks, as Mr. Icahn has until the end of the month to propose a slate of candidates to join the Time Warner board. The company’s annual shareholders meeting takes place in May.