Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.’s Chief Strategic Officer Ken Schapiro is exiting the studio at the end of this month after joining the company in 2011 as COO. He was a key figure at MGM in recent years, helping to guide the studio’s strategy, and was promoted in January to his current post. Analysts saw his promotion as a sign that MGM possibly was going public (which it indicated in 2012 was a distinct possibility). It’s not clear where that stands now. However MGM Chair Gary Barber did tell analysts recently in a conference call that he would continue to evaluate that and promises to do what’s best for the company. Schapiro has been involved in all of the company’s financials. He helped to structure debt and its $75M stock repurchase, helped coordinate MGM’s investments in new media and the 2012 divestiture of the company’s overseas channels, and oversaw MGM’s home video campaign for its 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise. Before joining the studio, Schapiro co-founded investment management company Qualia Capital and was COO of Artisan Entertainment — helping to turn around the video distributor and merge it with Lionsgate. Schapiro said he was thankful to be part of the restructuring at MGM and was looking forward to another challenge.
Ken Schapiro’s move from COO to the new gig — which MGM says is a promotion — likely will fuel the speculation that CEO Gary Barber is inching closer to a decision to take the studio public. Schapiro joined as COO in 2011 and Barber says that he’s “thrilled we will continue to work together moving MGM into its next phase and guiding the strategic direction of the company.” He did not name a replacement for the COO job. In July 2012 MGM filed a draft registration at the SEC for an IPO, but has largely kept mum about the subject since then. “MGM is in a very strong position and we continue to study all of our options,” Barber told debt holders in November. With his extensive background in Hollywood finance, Schapiro has the background to help shape strategy, with or without an IPO. He was involved with “all of the company’s financing transactions,” MGM says, as well as debt restructuring, its recent $75M stock repurchase, investments in new media, and the 2012 divestiture of the company’s overseas channels. He also oversaw MGM’s home video campaign for the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise. Before joining the studio, Schapiro co-founded investment management company Qualia Capital, and was COO of Artisan Entertainment — helping to turn around the video distributor and merge it with Lionsgate. …
MGM said today that it has tapped veteran Steve Hendry for the role of SEVP Television Operations. A part of MGM’s finance team for more than 13 years and most recently SEVP Finance, he will oversee fiscal operations and business planning for the MGM Television Group and Digital and report to TV division president Roma Khanna and MGM COO Ken Schapiro.
LOS ANGELES, CA, February 14, 2011- MGM has appointed Ken Schapiro to the post of Chief Operating Officer, it was announced today by Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum.
Schapiro is the co-founder and a managing principal of Qualia Capital LLC, a private investment management company focused on the media and entertainment industries with an emphasis on intellectual property asset portfolios. His MGM appointment is effective immediately and he will report to Barber and Birnbaum.
“Ken’s background, experience and proven track record make him an undeniable asset to MGM. We believe his skills and energy will be integral in helping us build the new MGM,” said Barber and Birnbaum.
“While it is difficult to leave the business I co-founded with my partner Amir Malin, returning to an operating role to work with Gary and Roger at the new MGM from this early stage is too exciting a challenge to pass up,” said Schapiro.
Prior to co-founding Qualia Capital LLC in 2003, Ken Schapiro served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Artisan Entertainment. During his tenure at Artisan, from 1998 to 2003, the company more than tripled the size of its film library to become one of the largest content libraries in the world with over 6000 titles. Schapiro and his co-founding partner in Qualia, Amir Malin, oversaw Artisan’s transformation from a struggling publicly held home video distributor into a leading privately held independent film company,
As expected, the MGM ownership situation is getting closer to being sorted, and it won’t be long before the Lion has a chance to roar again. Or at least emerge from its cage. Spyglass chiefs Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber have signed non-binding letters of intent that will make them MGM co-chairmen/CEOs. That leads to the next step, which is a pre-packaged bankruptcy proceeding that would convert debt to equity, removing the $4 billion albatross from around the Lion’s neck so that it can start generating films again. The prepackaged bankruptcy allows the company to be restructured while it freezes existing deals for franchises that include the James Bond series and The Hobbit.
The LA Times reports that the Spyglass guys are already looking past this hurdle, and are talking with Ken Schapiro about coming aboard as COO. He’s a vet of Qualia Capital, which was among the entities that kicked the tires on MGM before management decided to go with Birnbaum and Barber, who are expected to make projects but will likely eliminate the studio’s marketing and distribution arms and set the projects up elsewhere. All this means that The Hobbit, with Peter Jackson at the helm, can move forward, with co-financing partner Warner Bros distributing the two films worldwide.