Icahn Turns to Lazard for TW Help

Corporate raider Carl Icahn has turned up the heat in his battle with Time Warner Inc., hiring investment banker Lazard Ltd. to identify strategic alternatives and identify a new slate of directors for the media giant.

In a press release, Icahn said his Icahn Partners and three other investors -- Franklin Mutual Advisers Inc., JANA Partners LLC and SAC Capital Advisors LLC -- hired Lazard to conduct an in-depth analysis of Time Warner’s business and identify potential strategic alternatives for the media giant, including “a streamlining of its corporate structure, reconfiguration of its assets, potential sale of selected businesses, adoption of a more appropriate capital structure and commencement of a significant share repurchase.”

In the release, Icahn said Lazard will also assist it in identifying a slate of directors -- which would replace a majority of Time Warner’s current board -- to be presented at Time Warner’s next annual meeting of shareholders.

Icahn began making waves at Time Warner in early August when he disclosed that Icahn Partners, along with the three other funds, had accumulated Time Warner stock and options worth about $2.2 billion on the open market, or about 2.6% of the company’s total shares outstanding.

Earlier this month, Time Warner seemed to bend to some of Icahn’s wishes when it announced that it would more than double its share-buyback program from $5 billion to $12.5 billion. But Icahn -- who has recommended a $20 billion buyback and the total divestiture of its cable operations -- has said in published reports that the new share-repurchase plan was inadequate.

“We have brought in Lazard to complete an in-depth study of Time Warner and how shareholder value can be enhanced,” Icahn said in a prepared statement. “It is our contention that it is only through a very meaningful and deep restructuring and share-buyback program that all shareholders will be able to realize the true value of Time Warner."