It’s totally cute. Yesterday Time Warner CEO Dick Parson’s was all over Carl Icahn, crediting the high profile investor with helping Time Warner get in touch with their shareholders and convincing the company to increase its share buyback plan.
Reuters reports on Parson’s comments at the Reuters Media Summit:
“When someone accumulates even 3 or 4 percent of your stock and starts making the kind of noises Carl was making, it causes you to get in touch with your other shareholders,” said Parsons. “There was a sense that you could use more of your capacity to buy back the stock.”
Parsons said he’s not worried about another assault by Icahn. “Someone asked me if he is happy. I’m not sure if that’s a word I would use. I’m sure he is happier.”
Icahn, for his part, said he is happy, now that Time Warner stock has risen over the past several months.
“I’m happy concerning Time Warner,” said Icahn in a phone interview on Tuesday. “The hedge fund make over $200 million and to me, that’s a lot better than having a debilitating proxy fight.”
“Dick kept the promises he made to me and that makes me happy,” Icahn added. “He promised to cut expenses and do a huge buyback.
“We helped facilitate some of those changes. I think some of those things would not have happened to the extent that they did if we hadn’t been around,” said Icahn, adding that he “got some criticism for backing off” and dropping the campaign for a full breakup.
We’ve been thinking more and more about what New York City might look like under Dick Parsons. We have no idea what his policy preferences are but looking over his work at Time Warner and some of our own DealBreaker reporting, we have a few guesses at how things might change.
• Increased M&A Activity: We’ll merge with Jersey City! They’ve already got half our finance jobs anyway.
• New City Crest: Replace our old stale one with the Parsons Family Crest.
• Ladies, ladies, ladies: Feel free to spend your time hanging around with whores!
• Free wireless cable and internet for everyone. (Okay. This last one is probably a stretch.)
A few years ago we almost supported Mike Bloomberg for mayor because greek shipping heir and poison penned essayist Taki persuaded us that New York City needed to be led by a rich man who understood business. We’re still not sure Taki was right in saying Bloomberg deserved our backing. There have been too many betrayals and too much bungled. But he may be right that it is New York’s destiny to be led by such men, and that they tend to be marginally better than the usual alternative—career political hacks who have never spent a day weaned from the tits of tax-payers.
All this is by way of saying that we suppose the entrance of Time Warner’s Dick Parson’s into the race for New York City mayor, which New York magazine says is almost certain, is not entirely unwelcome. Word is that he’ll run as a liberal Republican—along the lines of Bloomberg and what we used to call the “Rockefeller Republicans.”
Is Parsons the New Bloomberg? [New York Magazine]
When Carl Icahn was pursing Time Warner, we kept hearing that Icahn didn’t really understand the business–or businesses, as it were. (And we couldn’t help but think that Icahn’s assertion that TWX was big and bloated and might function more efficiently in smaller pieces wasn’t exactly a rocket-science observation.) But Dick Parsons directly suggests as much in an interview with The Oxford Press, while indirectly suggesting that the shareholder base as a whole understands the company better than Icahn:
Our shareholders who have been with the company a long time. They understand its strengths, they understand the industry. … I’m not sure that Carl really did. While I would be wrong to say there isn’t a lot of frustration, the whole media sector right now is in a little bit of a malaise. No one who really has been around this space for any period of time believed that Carl had any answers that were novel or likely to result in the stock moving up.
The NYT article the other day about corporate travel mentioned (in passing) Dick Parsons’ family crest. I wondered what he could possibly have on his crest. Carl Icahn? Steve Case? Ted Turner? How do guys from Brooklyn get family crests anyway? Well, one of my readers found it.
To your left, ladies and gentlemen, is the Parsons family crest. We think it looks a bit cartoon-y. Maybe the Medici-esque spheres should be replaced by an ACME anvil and a little bundle of TNT. It would be more appropriate all the way around. Richard Parsons’ Family Crest [CWS]
Just when you thought Time Warner couldn’t get any bigger or dumber**, TW CEO Dick Parsonstells the FT that he wants to move into wireless via acquisition or buying spectrum. His explanation:
“The ultimate table has to be constructed with four legs, not three. The fourth leg will be wireless – how one solves the equation I don’t know,” Mr Parsons said.
Well, that’s simple: you divide the second leg by the sum of the tabletop and a chair, then subtract four.
On the upside for Parsons, the TW bar for what constitutes a successful acquisition is pretty low. (Thank you, Gerry Levin, wherever you are…)
** Statistical correlation between “big” and “dumb” = 0.96 Parsons Says Time Warner Needs Mobile Assets [FT]