March 23, 2007 / 11:07 AM / 13 years ago

Icahn ups pressure on Motorola, raises stake

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Carl Icahn increased his pressure on Motorola Inc. MOT.N by saying he had raised his stake in the mobile phone maker and is still seeking a seat on the board, according to a proxy filing.

Investor Carl Icahn responds to a question at a meeting to announce the findings of the Lazard Report in New York, February 7, 2006. Icahn increased his pressure on Motorola Inc. by saying he had raised his stake in the mobile phone maker and is still seeking a seat on the board, according to a proxy filing. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky

The proxy was sent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late on Thursday, a day after Motorola issued a profit warning and announced a bigger share buyback. It suggested the billionaire investor was still not satisfied.

The No. 2 maker of mobile phones also said on Wednesday it hired a chief operating officer, Greg Brown, and that its chief financial officer was leaving.

According to the updated filing, Icahn has raised his stake in Motorola to 2.7 percent, from 2.48 percent as of his previous filing on March 12. It was not clear exactly when the additional shares were bought.

Icahn, who has agitated for change at many companies and is also seeking board seats at WCI Communities Inc. WCI.N and Temple-Inland Inc. TIN.N, urged shareholders to vote him on to the board, at an annual meeting on May 7.

In late January, Icahn announced that he would seek a board seat to try to pressure Motorola into using some of its $11.3 billion cash pile to buy back more shares.

The company earlier this month said it would not endorse a nomination of Icahn to join the board, and urged shareholders “not to sign any proxy card” they might receive from entities associated with Icahn in its proxy statement.

Motorola has lost about a third of its market value, or $22 billion, in the last five months as profits suffered from a sharp fall in phone prices and stiff competition.

Its latest quarter badly missed targets, and on Wednesday it said it would post a first quarter loss. Moreover, Chief Executive Ed Zander said 2007 profit and sales would be “substantially” worse than anticipated.

Motorola also said it would buy back $2 billion worth of shares on an accelerated basis and was increasing its current share buyback authorization program for the period ending July 2009 to $7.5 billion from $4.5 billion.

Icahn’s proxy urged shareholders to vote for him and all Motorola board nominees except for John White, Chancellor of the University of Arkansas, due to existing proxy rules.

“Mr. White was not selected for any particular reason,” it said, adding that if Icahn is elected and the board wants White back, it can vote to expand and add White.

Motorola shares, which fell 6.6 percent to close on the New York Stock Exchange at $17.5 on Thursday, rose almost 1 percent to $17.65 just after the New York Stock Exchange opened on Friday.

Additional reporting by Karey Wutkowski in Washington

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