Netflix's Reed Hastings Responds to Carl Icahn Acquisition Rumors

 

Reed Hastings is expecting a proxy battle with Carl Icahn, the Netflix CEO told The Wall Street Journal.

Hastings, who has been largely silent about Icahn since it was learned the activist investor took nearly a 10 percent stake in Netflix, also dismissed the idea of allowing Netflix to be acquired by a larger company. Icahn, though, has suggested such a strategy would be best for shareholders.

“We think we can make it in the long term absolutely on our own. We’ve been doing that for 10 years,” Hastings told the Journal on Friday.

But Icahn told The Hollywood Reporter recently that Netflix “makes a great acquisition candidate because of their subscription base.”

Icahn is also known for pushing to install his own board members at companies he buys into, and Hastings predicts that the billionaire financier will pursue that strategy with Netflix as well.

“Will he run a proxy? Probably,” Hastings told the Journal.

Icahn disclosed in a regulatory filing on Oct. 31 that he purchased just under a 10 percent stake in Netflix for about $60 per share, and the stock shot up in response. On Friday, Netflix shares sank 58 cents to $80.90.

One company often discussed as a possible Netflix suitor is Amazon.com. Hastings said that he suspects Amazon is losing from $500 million to $1 billion a year by offering free streaming to those who subscribe to its Prime discount-shipping service.

Nevertheless, he said Friday that he takes seriously competition from the giant online retailer, according to All Things Digital, which, like the Journal, is owned by Dow Jones.

"Amazon is the best competitor we've ever faced," said Hastings.

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