Lionsgate exec likes film libraries
Burns reiterates Icahn tender offer is too lowNEW YORK -- Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns on Tuesday called himself bullish on film libraries, reiterated that dissident shareholder Carl Icahn won't get the company at "anywhere near" the prices he has offered so far and dissed Canadian regulators.
"Everybody wants to talk about Carl," Burns quipped as he took the first question at the Jefferies 6th annual Global Internet, Media & Telecom conference here. "He is not going to get the company anywhere near that level" of - most recently - $7 per share. "Our shareholders are voting with us in this regard."
But Burns lauded Icahn for having been a shareholder for a while and argued that he "has a lot of great things to contribute."
Asked about Icahn's attempt to derail Lionsgate's interest in MGM and Miramax, Burns said his team will look at any library and both firm's libraries are "incredibly valuable."
"I'm a bull when it comes to library value," he said, citing VOD and other new digital business opportunies, as well as DVD that is "still an incredibly well accepted medium." He added: "I don't think DVDs are going to die any time soon."
He later mentioned that Lionsgate still sells, for example, about 2,000 DVDs of 22-year-old "Dirty Dancing."
However, Burns reiterated Lionsgate will always bid conservatively. "We're never gonna bet the ranch," he said. "We're not going to overpay."
Asked about a recent defeat of Lionsgate's poison pill provision in Canada via a decision by the British Columbia Securities Commission, Burns said: "Canada doesn't really know pills. I think they've had four (in their history)."
He compared explaining the poison pill idea to Canadian regulators to "pounding your head against a wall" or "trying to teach a foreign language to a deaf person."
He then quipped: "I'm not gonna break into 'O Canada' any time soon."
One attendee of his session then suggested Lionsgate could move from its current Canadian base to make it a U.S. company. Burns said that would require time and approval from two-thirds of shareholders, but he didn't rule it out outright.
Other points of note from Burns' appearance:
-- He expects the company's fifth record library result in a row this year.
-- He reiterated his expectation that Redbox will be incremental to the film business, because it makes movie rentals an impulse transaction for the first time. He compared Redbox rentals to Lifesavers sales at the supermarket counter.
-- Burns also was bullish on the outlook of Lionsgate's upcoming film slate.