When it comes to activist investors, Carl Icahn is a, well, icon of the practice. He has been involved in some major deals, aggressively playing his hand to get what he wants. The man who had a hand in almost sinking Marvel Comics in the 1990s was recently embroiled in a war for Dell Inc. He lost that buyout war and then proceeded to opine publicly and aggressively that Dell’s boardroom was “dysfunctional.”
The latest target of Icahn’s ire was the Gannett Company, a media holding company that boasts USA Today and a number of television stations as assets. Last month, Icahn, who owns approximately 6.6 percent of Gannett’s stock, had been pushing two nominees for the company’s board of directors and had submitted his own corporate governance proposals, focused on making the company easier to sell. It seemed like the billionaire investor was ready for a fight.
“Establishing an appropriate governance profile for the new publishing company has been a top priority for the board as we prepare for the separation later this year,” said Gannett’s non-executive chair Marge Magner, in a statement. “The details we are announcing today reflect productive conversations we’ve had with Mr. Icahn and other shareholders, and are consistent with Gannett’s shareholder focus and track record of responsible corporate governance.”