Financier Carl Icahn is scaling back his drive to shake up Time Warner Inc., abandoning efforts to seek control of the giant media company by nominating only a partial slate of directors, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The newspaper, citing unnamed people familiar with Icahn’s plans, said Icahn would nominate only five directors at Time Warner’s next annual meeting, not enough to ensure control, amid signs that the dissident investor could be near some kind of an agreement with the company.
Time Warner declined to comment, and Icahn did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The Journal reported on its Web site that Icahn’s proposed slate of directors would include Alan Weber, a former chairman of U.S. Trust; former TIAA-CREF executive Peter Clapman; Dale Hanson, a former executive with the California pension fund Calpers and Doug Bergeron, an executive with VeriFone. It would also include Frank Biondi, a veteran entertainment executive that Icahn had previously allied with.
The news came just days before a Feb. 19 deadline Icahn is facing to submit any nominations for directors ahead of Time Warner’s next annual shareholders meeting, which is expected to be held in May.
Icahn is allied with a group of investors who collectively own slightly more than 3 percent of Time Warner’s stock. Last week the investment bank Lazard Ltd. released a report Icahn had commissioned calling for the breakup of Time Warner into four separate entities.
However, Icahn’s call to splinter Time Warner has received only limited support from investors.
This week Institutional Investor Services, an influential proxy advisory firm, urged investors to “apply a healthy dose of skepticism” whenever a company justifies a deal citing a valuation opinion from bankers or the highlighting of a name brand adviser.