Icahn Plans More Legal Action Against Motorola - InformationWeek
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3/24/2008
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Icahn Plans More Legal Action Against Motorola

Carl Icahn is seeking documents on the possible spinoff of the company's Mobile Devices unit and any records on the personal use of company aircraft by senior management.

Pressing his campaign to break up Motorola, billionaire financier Carl Icahn said he is going to court today to force Motorola management to turn over documents about its struggling Mobile Devices unit.

Icahn, who has said he has a 6.5% stake in Motorola, has argued that Motorola's pieces are worth more than it's whole and favors spinning off the mobile handset operation as a separate company with a new CEO.

"Mobile Devices needs a new CEO and new management team free from the inept current leadership of Motorola," Icahn said in a statement Monday. "I believe that no new 'top-notch' Mobile Devices management team will be willing to report to or be involved in any way with the current Motorola management or board."

Icahn is fielding his own slate of candidates for the Motorola board including Frank Biondi Jr., former Viacom executive; William Hambrecht of the eponymous investment banking firm; MIT professor Lionel Kimerling, and Keith Meister, an executive at one of Icahn's funds.

Motorola's new CEO Greg Brown has been aggressively moving to shore up the mobile devices unit, which has rapidly been losing market share in recent months. Brown, too, appears to be working to break up Motorola, although on terms set by the current management.

Brown has suggested the mobile devices unit could be spun off, but leading acquirers -- competitors Nokia, Samsung and LG Electronics -- have all said they aren't particularly interested. In addition, Motorola has reportedly been in talks with Nortel Networks about forming a partnership to operate a separate unit built largely around Motorola networking infrastructure operations.

As it is, Motorola has been down sizing and spinning off operations for years. It laid off several thousand employees earlier in the decade and in 2004 spun off its Freescale semiconductor operation.

Brown has been replacing executives at a furious pace since he took over the helm at Motorola last fall. Earlier this month, Motorola said that Stu Reed, who had been running the Mobile Devices unit, left the company "effective immediately." Mike Fenger left as head of Motorola's European, Middle East and Africa operation and was replaced by Stephen Nolan, who had been vice president of sales for Continental Europe.

In its filing with the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, Icahn said he is seeking board and management documents concerning Mobile Devices "including the potential spinoff of the Mobile Devices business." Icahn said he is also seeking records of personal use of company aircraft by senior management, directors, and their families if there are such records.

Icahn lost a proxy battle over Motorola directors last year. Since then, the company has slumped under the leadership of former CEO Ed Zander, who has given up leadership of the company to Brown.

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