Breaking Up Is Lazard To Do
Corporate raider Carl Icahn on Tuesday unveiled a 343-page plan prepared by Lazard Frères, the influential investment banking firm, calling for the breakup of Time Warner into four companies and buybacks of stock totaling about $20 billion. Icahn shared a platform with Bruce Wasserstein, head of Lazard, as Wasserstein Wasserstein argued that the plan would allow the four major components of the Time Warner empire -- the Time Warner cable company; the film and TV units, including Warner Bros., HBO, and CNN; Time Inc., which publishes Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Money, and Fortune magazines; and AOL -- to display their individual worth, thereby enhancing the value of the company's share price, which has stagnated at about $18. In a reference to Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons, Wasserstein said, "If Dick Parsons indeed has the secret super spicy sauce to drive and deliver greater value, we all say, hallelujah and God bless." However, he said, "the stock has gone nowhere and doesn't have the prospect of going anywhere under the current strategy." Time Warner later issued a statement saying that it would study the Lazard report and would "have more to say on the specifics of the proposal in due course."