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17th May 2021

Amazon in talks to take over MGM for $9b

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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In the latest chapter of the MGM acquisition story, news broke today that Amazon has been in active buy-out discussions with the studio for $9b. Last year, Amazon spent $11b in content for their Prime service. 'No Time To Die's studio could well be under new ownership by the time the 25th James Bond film is released. 

MGM has been actively up for sale for some time now,  with Morgan Stanley and LionTree hired as advisors in the process back in late December. At the time, the market valuation of the company was said to be "around $5.5 billion, based on privately traded shares and including debt." Industry analysts expected a buyer could bid up to twice that amount in a competitive situation.

According to Variety, the $9b deal is said to be being orchestrated by Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Amazon Studios and Prime Video, directly with MGM board chairman Kevin Ulrich, whose Anchorage Capital is a major MGM shareholder. The news came on the day Warner Bros and Discovery announced their $43b merger, creating a media empire and streaming platform to rival Disney and Netflix.

MGM owns approximately 4,000 films and 17,000 television episodes across a gamut of franchises. As well as the entire back-catalog of James Bond films,  'No Time To Die' in its unreleased state would be a valuable asset to any new owner.

As it stands today, MGM owns half the rights to the James Bond film franchise after they took over United Artists, who in turn had purchased them from producer Harry Saltzman who hit financial difficulties in the early 1970s. The other 50% is owned by Danjaq, the parent company to EON Productions - both ran by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson who inherited it from Albert R. 'Cubby' Broccoli. MGM and Danjaq's deal is complicated, but in an over-simplified nutshell, MGM front the money, and Danjaq/EON make the films (although MGM has veto power over casting decisions). MGM controls the home distribution rights and Danjaq approves merchandise deals. MGM also used to distribute theatrical releases worldwide, but have had to partner for international territories since they lost that wing of their business in the last bankruptcy restructuring.


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