Time Warner offers $1.5 billion to own MGM

MUMBAI: Time Warner has bid $1.5 billion to purchase the debt-laden Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), making it one of the frontrunners in the chase.

The owner of CNN and controller of Hollywood‘s largest film library feels it can generate strong returns from MGM‘s assets through its distribution network and relationships with pay-TV channels. Time Warner has close to $5 billion in cash and equivalents.

MGM, saddled with $3.7billion in debt from a 2005 buy-out from a consortium of buyers led by Sony, initially attracted attention all across Hollywood with companies including News Corp, Liberty Media and AT&T showing their keenness to join the race. But by last Friday‘s deadline, only three remained.

MGM confirmed that it had received a number of bids and that it would review them over the next few weeks, though it has not ruled out operating as an independent company.

The studio had hoped to attract bids topping $2 billion but has drawn offers of between $1.2 to $1.5 billion, raising the possibility of MGM lenders pushing for a pre-packaged bankruptcy rather than facing a distress sale.

MGM has struggled to keep afloat as it suffered an industry wide slump in DVD sales. In spite of that, the studio‘s Bond catalogue, rights to make future Bond films and its development of a film version of The Hobbit attracted interest from potential buyers.

The bidding for MGM coincides with the auction of the Miramax library, owned by Walt Disney, and Overture, the film arm of the Liberty Media Group, in the latest round of consolidation.

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