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Carl Icahn says speculators are spreading lies about him buying shares of Time Warner in a bid to drive the share price higher, and this time they’ve gone too far.
The billionaire activist investor told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday that he is “not in Time Warner, not backward, not forward. I have no shares or options.”
The media giant’s stock has surged 7 percent in the past week amid rumors that it is a takeover candidate. Media outlets began to report a few days ago that Icahn was purchasing shares of Time Warner and that his intention was to become the activist shareholder that he is known to be — forcing changes in the board room, break-ups, share buybacks, an outright sale, or whatever it takes to profit.
Icahn is no stranger to entertainment stocks, having owned Blockbuster, Netflix, Lionsgate and others in the past. He also famously owned a large stake in Time Warner nearly a decade ago and tried to force major changes, though he settled for little more than share buybacks and cost-cutting.
“I generally don’t talk about this stuff, but I’m getting tired of these guys,” Icahn said. “I have zero idea who is doing this, but it happens more than occasionally. This time it’s different. It’s getting out there, and it’s getting annoying.”
Time Warner has been the subject of speculation since the New Year. Besides speculation about Ichan, the stock has been swayed on a report that 21st Century Fox might be proposing a $105-per-share takeover bid. Fox has denied those reports. There has also been talk that Amazon.com or other entities are considering a purchase of the conglomerate.
While Icahn said he doesn’t have any direct ties to Time Warner, one of his former top lieutenants does. Keith Meister, who runs Corvex Management, owns about 3.7 million shares of Time Warner. There have been reports that he is working behind the scenes, trying to convince CEO Jeff Bewkes to sell the entire company or spin off HBO.
One reason Icahn’s not piling into Time Warner: He believes that some of the entertainment sector is overpriced, even after the stocks took a beating last year over cord-cutting concerns.
“The industry is changing radically. I do think some of the companies are overpriced, but I won’t say which ones. I can’t get into it. I only talk about what I am in,” he said.
Time Warner was trading 2 percent higher on Tuesday to $70.77.
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