Feds clear way for Icahn

Competition Bureau okays play for Lionsgate

Carl Icahn has received an advance ruling from the Competition Bureau that clears the way for his unsolicited US$6 per-share takeover bid for Lionsgate.

Carl Icahn

‘I am very pleased that we have received antitrust clearance from Canada in connection with our offer,’ Icahn, Lionsgate’s second-largest shareholder with an 18.9% stake, said in a statement.

‘This important regulatory clearance brings us closer to our goal of replacing Lionsgate’s board of directors and changing the strategic direction of the company,’ he added.

The federal bureau weighs foreign takeovers of Canadian companies for possible market anti-competitiveness, while Canadian Heritage assesses deals on cultural grounds.

Icahn earlier said he will hold separate talks with Heritage to seek agreements to keep Lionsgate incorporated in Canada for at least five years and, if necessary, sell the studio’s stake in Maple Pictures to ensure continued access to tax credits and other local subsidies.

Any move that puts Lionsgate in foreign control could lead Ottawa to demand the studio repay tax credits and other public subsidies it has received as a Canadian-controlled company to shoot film and TV projects in Canada.

The current management at Lionsgate earlier conceded it briefly held talks in 2009 with Canadian officials about moving its headquarters to the U.S. to make it easier to defend itself against a possible takeover by Icahn.