September 14, 2007 / 7:20 PM / 12 years ago

Icahn boosts BEA stake, calls for sale of company

BOSTON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has increased his stake in BEA Systems Inc BEAS.O to 8.5 percent and on Friday urged the company’s board to put the business software maker up for sale.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for a stand-alone technology company to prosper, especially in light of the very strong competitors in the area. It might almost be dangerous to continue to stand alone,” Icahn said in an interview.

The financier, who has pressured companies from media giant Time Warner Inc TWX.N to handset maker Motorola Inc MOT.N and luxury builder WCI Communities Inc WCI.N, reported in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that he held 33.43 million BEA shares, or 8.53 percent.

Icahn had previously reported that he held 7.94 million BEA shares, or about a 2 percent stake, as of June 30.

He said on Friday he intends to meet with BEA’s management to discuss a sale of the company, and also plans to bring up the matter with other large shareholders.

Officials at BEA could not be reached for comment.

BEA sells software that helps business computer systems communicate with each other. Its WebLogic software competes with products from International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) and Oracle Corp ORCL.O.

IBM and Oracle have much larger sales forces that sell their competing products alongside other software and hardware products that work with them.

Icahn said a larger software maker would be able to give BEA’s WebLogic products to its sales force to sell, increasing the product’s exposure while reducing its overhead.

“I believe it would attract a meaningful premium for shareholders if it were sold to a synergistic company in the area,” he added.

BEA shares rose 49 cents, 4 percent, or $13.25, in Nasdaq trade. The stock has fallen about 12 percent over the past year, while IBM shares have soared 41 percent and Oracle shares have climbed 25 percent during the same period.

Icahn said he may seek to have BEA Systems hold an annual shareholder meeting, as one has not been held since July 2006, and may seek to nominate directors.

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