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Icahn says has considered Netflix takeover, no decision made

Investor Carl Icahn in this file photo taken on June 27, 2007. REUTERS/Chip East
Investor Carl Icahn in this file photo taken on June 27, 2007. REUTERS/Chip East

(Reuters) - Activist investor Carl Icahn said on Thursday he has considered a hostile takeover bid for Netflix but was uncertain he stood a chance of acquiring the Internet streaming service in which he holds a 10 percent stake.

Asked by TV network CNBC whether he would "go hostile" on Netflix, Icahn said: "The thought had certainly entered my mind. I have to admit I think about it, but we haven't made that decision."

While Icahn said a hostile takeover was "certainly an alternative," he downplayed the possibility several times. He added that he would not be able to pay as much for Netflix as a "synergistic buyer" looking to acquire an Internet movie and TV subscription service.

Netflix has been the subject of periodic speculation that it could be acquired, with names of potential buyers including Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

A Netflix spokesman had no comment on Icahn's remarks on Thursday.

Icahn last month disclosed he had amassed 9.98 percent of Netflix shares. Most of his purchases were in the form of call options that expire in September 2014. The billionaire, who is known for shaking up corporate management, has said Netflix was undervalued and an attractive acquisition target for a number of companies.

Netflix has since adopted a poison pill defense to prevent an outsider who lacks board approval from accumulating a stake of 10 percent or more, a move that Icahn on Thursday called "reprehensible."

A poison pill is a common strategy used by companies in response to Icahn. Netflix said on Monday the move was not meant to prevent any merger or business combination approved by the board.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker, Katya Wachtel and Sam Forgione in New York and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler and Edwina Gibbs)

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