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Icahn, allies win seats on board

Financier moves to keep chairman at Blockbuster

DALLAS -- Billionaire financier Carl Icahn and two allies apparently won seats on Blockbuster Inc.'s board of directors yesterday, and Icahn's first move was to seek to retain John F. Antioco, whom he had just ousted as chairman of the nation's biggest movie-rental chain.

Icahn, Blockbuster's largest shareholder, did not attend the meeting, but a representative said he would propose adding a seat on the board for Antioco and making him chairman.

Antioco had threatened to quit as chief executive if he lost reelection as chairman but is now expected to stay.

Blockbuster shares rose 2.1 percent, gaining 21 cents to close at $10.05 on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares have traded in a 52-week range of $6.50 to $16.15.

Shareholders elected three of seven directors. General counsel Edward B. Stead said official results won't be known for several days but that it appeared Icahn's candidates had won. The company was briefed on the voting by its proxy solicitor.

In a brief statement, Icahn said his slate won about 77 percent of the shares voted.

He said he looked forward to working with Antioco and the rest of the board.

Icahn is likely to pressure the company to cut spending and return more cash to shareholders in the form of dividends.

He had accused Antioco of spending too much on initiatives such as online ordering and his own pay package.

Antioco defended the online business as necessary to compete against rival Netflix Inc. and cheap DVDs sold at mass merchandisers.

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