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It's go time: Lions Gate sets Dec. 14 shareholders meeting to face off with Carl Icahn

November 8, 2010 |  1:41 pm

Let's get ready to rumble.

Lions Gate Entertainment and its largest shareholder, Carl Icahn, will square off at the film and television studio's annual shareholders meeting set for Dec. 14. Icahn, who over the last 20 months has been aggressively trying to seize control of Lions Gate, has long said he plans to launch a proxy contest to replace the company's board of directors and oust its current management.

For the first time, Lions Gate will hold its shareholder meeting in Los Angeles, where the company operates, rather than in Toronto, where it is legally domiciled and has traditionally hosted the yearly event in September.

Not only would it be bitter cold in Toronto in mid-December, Lions Gate may be betting that it will have more control over a contested meeting if it's in its own backyard with more of its executives present. 

Last week, the British Court of Appeals denied a request by Icahn to prevent Lions Gate from setting its annual shareholders meeting earlier than Jan. 21, 2011. Icahn is appealing a decision by the British Columbia Supreme Court that ruled in favor of Lions Gate over a debt-for-equity transaction in July that diluted the investor's stake to 33.5% from 38%, thus hindering his attempt to take over the company.

Presumably Icahn was also motivated to push back the meeting date to allow the corporate raider additional time to accumulate more Lions Gate stock by the Nov. 12 expiration of his latest tender offer.

Icahn and Lions Gate are also currently suing each other in New York courts, at the same time the odd bedfellows are pursuing a potential merger between Lions Gate and bankrupt Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., in which Icahn is also a major stakeholder.

-- Claudia Eller