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Blockbuster names Antioco chairman

Blockbuster Inc. on Friday confirmed its board unanimously agreed to reappoint Chief Executive John Antioco as chairman.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The new board of Blockbuster Inc., including billionaire financier Carl Icahn, added a seat Friday for CEO John F. Antioco and restored him to the chairmanship that he lost in a shareholder vote this week.

Icahn and two running mates unseated Antioco and two other directors of the nation’s biggest movie-rental chain on Wednesday.

The company certified results of the shareholder vote Friday but said it would not release figures until it files its next quarterly financial report in August.

Icahn received fewer votes than his running mates, said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The newcomers joined four returning directors on a conference call Friday afternoon and agreed unanimously to expand the board by one seat and name Antioco chairman.

Antioco had vowed to quit as CEO if he lost the chairmanship. However, Icahn said Wednesday that he supported retaining Antioco to prevent paying him a severance package that the company had valued at $54 million.

“John said all along if he was re-elected as chairman he would stay,” said company spokeswoman Karen Raskopf. “Honestly, he would have preferred it happen by way of the shareholder vote, but he’s looking forward to getting back to business.”

The other new directors are former BMG Entertainment CEO Strauss Zelnick and former Warner Bros. executive Edward Bleier. With Icahn, they still form only a minority on the eight-member board. Icahn said this week he would seek majority control next year if he is not satisfied with the company’s financial performance.

Icahn had charged that management spent too much on new businesses and Antioco’s compensation.

Blockbuster lost $1.25 billion last year. Antioco has proposed spending $170 million this year building an online-rental service to compete with Netflix Inc., and he eliminated most late fees, which will cost Blockbuster an estimated $250 million to $300 million in operating income.