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Icahn Is Scornful of Time Warner Buyback

November 04, 2005|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Activist investor Carl Icahn on Thursday called Time Warner Inc.'s plans to boost the amount of its stock buyback "baby steps" and renewed his call to break up the media conglomerate.

"They are taking baby steps in the right direction but still have a long road to walk," the 69-year-old billionaire said.

Time Warner, which is under pressure from a group of investors led by Icahn to boost its share price, said on Wednesday that it planned to more than double a stock buyback program to $12.5 billion over 21 months from a previous goal of $5 billion.

But the company stopped short of acceding to Icahn's demand that it buy back $20 billion worth of stock and spin off its cable television division. The media company has said it plans to spin off only 16% of the cable division after it closes a deal to buy Adelphia Communications Corp. next year.

Earlier Thursday, Time Warner Chief Executive Richard Parsons disparaged Icahn's motives as being mainly for short-term stock gains.

"His goal is to get the stock price up to a point where he can sell it," Parsons told New York media executives at a conference.

Parsons' comments drew ire from Icahn, who has complained about Time Warner's stock performance. The stock closed at $17.66 on Thursday -- down 24 cents, or 1.3% -- and has remained essentially flat for the last two years.

"Dick Parsons is a nice guy and a master politician, but it does not appear that his talents lie in operations or, for that matter, in predicting my goals," the blunt-talking Wall Street veteran said.

"I now control or own well over a dozen companies and have held these for many years."

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