Billionaire financier Carl C. Icahn said yesterday that he plans to meet with the chief executive of Time Warner Inc. to try to pressure the company to spin off its cable-television assets, a move that Icahn believes will boost the media company's stock.
Time Warner's cable and high-speed Internet operations make up less than a quarter of the company's total $42 billion annual revenue. Without the cable operations, Time Warner's empire would still include Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., New Line Cinema Corp., Dulles-based America Online Inc. and a publishing operation.
The New York-based company said its chief executive, Richard D. Parsons, has proposed a meeting this week to discuss Icahn's views.
Icahn made his multibillion-dollar fortune through a number of investments in casinos, hotels, airlines and Reston-based telecommunications company XO Communications Inc., and has a long history of bending companies to his will, either through shareholder activism or by buying up large stakes in companies.
In a statement issued yesterday, Icahn said that Time Warner's management "has done a commendable job managing each of their various businesses" but that the stock does not reflect the value of its "well positioned and unique assets."
Time Warner spokesman Edward I. Adler said, "Our board and our management are committed to creating long-term value for all shareholders, and we have been on a course that demonstrates that commitment." He added that the company would "speak with any interested shareholders who have relevant views or opinions."
In his statement, Icahn said he had the backing of Icahn Partners LP, Icahn Partners Master Fund LP, Franklin Mutual Advisers, JANA Partners LLC and SAC Capital Advisors LLC, which collectively hold 120 million, or roughly 2.6 percent, of Time Warner's shares. Each of the investors informed Time Warner it intends to acquire an additional $500 million of Time Warner common stock. They have applied for regulatory approval to do so, according to the statement.
Spokeswoman Stacey Johnston confirmed that Franklin Mutual was involved in the deal but had no additional comment.
Icahn and the other investors also want the company to buy back at least $20 billion in shares, according to the statement.
James C. Goss, a media analyst with investment bank Barrington Research Associates Inc., noted that Icahn and his group control about $2.2 billion worth of Time Warner shares -- a small fraction of the company's $85.4 billion market value -- so it is unclear how much influence Icahn can wield.
Goss added that over the past couple of years, the company has addressed some of its challenges by reorganizing its corporate structure, reducing its debt load and restructuring AOL into more of a media-content company. Time Warner also recently announced a $5 billion buyback of its stock.
Thus Goss questioned whether Icahn's proposed spinoff would greatly benefit shareholders. "I'm of the mind that there isn't always a quick fix to challenges within a larger company," he said.
Time Warner stock closed up 26 cents yesterday, at $18.50 a share.