Television

Time Warner evinces renewed interest in MGM

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MUMBAI: After Sony made public its interest in taking over MGM, another media major has thrown its hat into the ring.

Time Warner, which had been mulling the possibility of joining forces with MGM in December 2003, is considering whether it would be prudent to renew discussions with the studio controlled by billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian.

A report in the Wall Street Journal indicates that Time Warner executives are holding internal meetings to discuss the feasibility of putting forth an alternative bid. As was the case with Sony, Time Warner could use MGM to build its film library.

In India, that presents interesting scenarios. Firstly, Zee currently has a 50:50 JV with MGM. The question here is whether the merger would be disbanded should either Sony or Time Warner succeed. Secondly, it would be in HBO India's interest if the deal with Time Warner was to go through, as Time Warner is one of HBO's partners.

A report in Variety last year had indicated that Time Warner had been courting MGM since as early as 2002. At that time, Kerkorian was asking for around $ seven billion which Time Warner was finding difficult to meet on account of heavy debt, not least on account of AOL.

Another report in Reuters states that Time Warner's current bid was being made in conjunction with private equity firm Thomas H Lee. Sony earlier had put the offer at around $ five billion. The report adds that while Time Warner already owns some MGM films, these date back to before 1948. The pre 1948 library had been bought by billionaire Ted Turner way back in 1986. A new deal would bring the James Bond and Pink Panther franchises under its belt.

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