Top investors pump funds into showbiz


Such big-name investors as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros and Carl Icahn continue to pump money into media and entertainment stocks. However, their established sector holdings largely lost value in the third quarter amid a volatile market, according to a slew of regulatory filings in recent days.

Billionaire investor Soros reported in a filing this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that a fund of his has taken stakes in Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio during the summer ahead of their planned merger.

Soros reported holding 1.21 million of Sirius and 103,265 Class A shares of XM. They were worth $4.2 million and nearly $1.5 million, respectively, as of Sept. 30.

Among other sector investments, Soros also held 204,535 Yahoo shares worth $5.5 million at the end of the third quarter. That was up from the 43,183 shares worth $1.2 million that he owned as of the end of the second quarter.

Another big Wall Street name, Buffett, bought a stake in Dow Jones in recent months -- ahead of the financial media firm's expected acquisition by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. next month.

The financial guru's Berkshire Hathaway reported that it bought 2.8 million shares in the third quarter, which were worth about $160 million as of the end of the quarter Sept. 30. Buffett had been rumored this year as a possible white knight who could counter Murdoch's Dow Jones bid.

Meanwhile, Cascade Investment, the private investment vehicle of Gates, reported one sector addition in the quarter in the form on online media company PlanetOut. It picked up 5.2 million PlanetOut shares, which were worth more than $6.6 million as of the end of the third quarter.

The Gates fund's holding in Mexican broadcaster Televisa remained steady at about 19.4 million shares, but its value of $470 million was down sharply from $579.5 million as of the end of the second quarter.

Cascade's investment in TV station group Fisher Communications stood at 455,700 shares worth $22.7 million as of Sept. 30, up slightly from $22.1 million three months ago.

Icahn also had a mixed third quarter. His investment firm, Icahn Management, reported a $237.5 million holding in Time Warner in the form of more than 12.9 million shares. That stake in the media conglomerate was unchanged from what he reported as of the end of the second quarter, however, the stake's value declined from $272.1 million in the previous quarter.

Also in the third quarter, the Icahn fund sold the close to 1.5 million shares of radio giant Clear Channel, which it had acquired during the second quarter and which were worth nearly $55.5 million as of June 30.

Meanwhile, Icahn Management slightly boosted its investment in Lionsgate from more than 4.1 million shares to nearly 4.3 million. Nonetheless, its value declined from more than $45.4 million as of June 30 to $44.2 million as of Sept. 30.

The company in its SEC filing also reported an unchanged stake of nearly 9.2 million Class A and 4.45 million Class B shares in Blockbuster, but their value rose in a rare gain in the investor's media portfolio. The Blockbuster stakes were worth $39.6 million and $17.4 million, respectively, as of midyear. At the end of the third quarter, though, the holdings were worth nearly $49.3 million and $21.6 million, respectively.

Via various investment vehicles, Icahn directly continued to hold about 2.3 million Class A shares of Blockbuster and about 1.1 million Class B shares.

According to another SEC filing this weekTuesday, the stakes were worth $12.3 million, up from $9.9 million, and more than $5.3 million, up from more than $4.3 million, respectively.

The overall value of all stocks held by Icahn Management rose from nearly $4.3 billion as of June 30 to more than $4.6 billion. Media and entertainment stocks contributing about $315.7 million, or 6.9%, down from $430 million, or 10%, as of the end of the previous quarter.