A Raider Targets Netflix
"It makes a great acquisition candidate," says activist investor Carl Icahn, setting up a showdown over -- and possible sale of -- the $4 billion-plus company.
Could Netflix soon have a new owner? In the wake of the revelation Oct. 31 that Carl Icahn has purchased nearly a 10 percent stake in the video rental service, a showdown between the corporate raider and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings over the direction of the company is all but certain. After all, when Icahn, 76, takes a stake in a company, proxy fights, management shake-ups, strategy changes, spinoffs and, in a few cases, outright sales ensue. Icahn bought a position in Blockbuster in 2005 and joined its board of directors. By the time he quit five years later, he had lost about $95 million, and some say his maneuverings helped bankrupt the company. But his other media investments have been far more lucrative, including raking in $165 million on MGM in less than a year in 2012, he says. He also made $75 million investing in Time Warner, encouraging management to buy back shares, cut costs and spin off Time Warner Cable. And he made $5 million in a 2011 fight over Lionsgate and $110 million on game maker Take-Two.
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