Icahn takes 10% of Netflix

November 1, 2012 14.52 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Shares in Netflix have been reignited after it had emerged billionaire investor Carl Icahn had taken a 10% holding in the online streaming platform.

In an interview Icahn said he believed Netflix stock to be undervalued and that the company was ripe for takeover. The market responded to put 14% on the shares that reached $79 at close.

They had already put on 13% last Friday after rumours that Microsoft was to acquire the company. Both Microsoft and Netflix denied the matter. Shares had previously been in the doldrums after a misjudged rebranding in the US domestic market and an attempt to separate online rentals from its DVD business.

This was compounded by a shareholder letter from chief executive Reed Hastings advising that HBO might sell its online streaming service outside of its cable and satellite affiliates.

In Europe it is HBO that has delayed its online launch in the competitive Nordic market where Netflix made its debut at the beginning of October.

In the third quarter international subscriptions reached 4.31 million including 3.69 million paid subscriptions and the 1 million members announced for the UK in July.

Netflix says it anticipates the UK market to take “materially longer” to reach profitability than was the case in Canada, due to high level of competition from other providers Sky and Lovefilm.