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Around the time self-proclaimed shareholder activist Carl Icahn bought into Blockbuster half a decade ago, its stock was worth $10, give or take. He ultimately spent well over $300 million stocking up on shares, in large part to lead the effort that would lead to the ouster of then-CEO John Antioco, a battle that began at the May 2005 shareholders meeting where Icahn and his slate of "dissidents," as The New York Times put it at the time, were elected to Blockbuster's board of directors. Said Icahn at the time, he was "elated by this grand victory for corporate governance."
Icahn took issue not only with how Antioco ran the company, which was only then beginning to record the revenue losses that have plagued Blockbuster ever since, but with the millions Antioco was being paid -- more than $7 million annually, plus millions and millions more in stock that was, at the time, actually worth something. By the time Antioco was ousted in the summer of 2007, and replaced with 7-Eleven's Jim Keyes, its shares had plummeted to $4.46. But Icahn had his man: "Jim is results-oriented, strategic and able to identify practical, yet highly creative solutions to complicated business problems," he said at the time.
But, now, Icahn's own days with Blockbuster appear to be numbered: In January he resigned from the board, claiming he was just adhering to Institutional Shareholder Services guidelines regarding the number of directorships one person can have. And now this: Today, Blockbuster filed docs with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealing that Icahn and his various holding companies have offloaded most of his Class A and Class B shares -- more than 14 million shares when all was said and done, leaving the one-time board of directors hellraiser with slightly more than 4 million shares.
Icahn began dumping stock Friday, but most of it was sold off this week -- around the time Blockbuster revealed it's going to ask shareholders to vote on a reverse stock split and that it has 45 days to submit a plan to get back in the New York Stock Exchange's good graces lest the Dallas-based company get delisted. Which means a majority of Icahn's shares, bought for upward of $10 in 2005, were sold just as Blockbuster's stock price touched its 52-week low of one quarter.