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How I Did It: Lessons from the Front Lines of Business by Daniel McGinn, Harvard Business Review

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Blockbuster’s Former CEO on Sparring with an Activist Shareholder

by John Antioco

John Antioco was CEO of Blockbuster from 1997 to 2007. Today he invests in retail franchise concepts.

The Idea

After losing a proxy fight to the activist investor Carl Icahn, Blockbuster’s then CEO faced a new obstacle: executing strategy in the face of boardroom opposition. He looks back on what he might have done differently.

When my assistant came into my office in early 2005 and told me that Carl Icahn was on the phone, it was a complete surprise. I knew, of course, that Icahn was an “activist shareholder,” but I had no idea why he might be calling. Icahn told me he’d bought nearly 10 million shares of Blockbuster, where I’d served as CEO for eight years. ...

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