Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (“MGM”) announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved all of MGM’s motions that were heard today, including finding that modifications to its “pre-packaged” plan of reorganization are immaterial and accordingly authorizing the plan to be amended. Once amended, the plan will be deemed accepted by MGM’s creditors. Other motions approved were the commitment fee motion, the break-up fee motion, the Ernst &Young LLP retention application, the space reduction motion and final approval of the cash management motion. Approval of these motions will help pave the way for MGM to confirm its plan, which received overwhelming approval by its secured lenders on October 29.
2ND UPDATE: MGM has just issued this statement about the results of the creditor voting:
“Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (‘MGM’) today announced that the secured lenders voting in the Company’s solicitation process have overwhelmingly approved its proposed plan of reorganization (‘Plan’). MGM will now move expeditiously to implement that Plan, which will dramatically reduce its debt load and put the Company in a strong position to execute its business strategy. MGM is appreciative of the lenders’ support.”
UPDATE: The creditors have now officially approved the restructuring plan that puts the Spyglass chiefs atop MGM and gets the studio moving again. A statement will be released momentarily. Now, the fun begins. If MGM isn’t a distributor, the next installment of James Bond will be a jump ball. Expect Sony (which distributed Casino Royale to battle it out with Warner Bros and Fox, but watch Paramount emerge in the thick of it because of the close relationship that the studio has developed with Spyglass since that company became co-financier of Star Trek and the followup that is in the works.
The long-running drama of MGM should play out by tomorrow when creditors decide whether or not to embrace a restructuring package that puts Spyglass partners Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber in control or instead give the MGM assets to Carl Icahn and Lionsgate. Elsewhere, Miramax Films, the other endless custody battle, is starting to come together. Reports have former News Corp exec Mike Lang in talks to become CEO, and MGM television coprexy Jim Packer also in discussions to take a post. All this is contingent on the sale of the company by Disney to Filmyard Holdings that takes place at year’s end. That purchase is backed by Ron Tutor and Colony Capital.
Carl Icahn is now offering 50 cents on the dollar for MGM debt in an attempt to bolster his position before creditors vote Friday on a reorganization plan that puts Spyglass partners Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber in the driver’s seat of the debt-hobbled studio. Icahn had previously been offering 45 cents on the dollar for debt, and the new offer comes with the stipulation that debt holders vote against the Spyglass offer. Lionsgate brass recently came out with an impassioned speech on why a Lionsgate-Icahn deal was better for creditors than the Spyglass plan which is half a year in the making. Considering how bitter the battle has been between Icahn and Lionsgate brass as he’s tried to take over the minimajor, doesn’t it sound like that couple you know, the one that is fighting constantly and decides that if they just went ahead and had a baby, everything would be perfect? MGM, which watched Mary Parent exit as its pic chief after she was stymied in her efforts to create a production slate for the Lion, needs a steady hand and many feel that the Spyglass guys would provide it. The prepackaged bankruptcy with Birnbaum and Barber has never been viewed as a permanent solution. It has always been viewed by insiders as “kicking the can down the road.” Bolder plays with an outside suitor like Lionsgate is necessary later on, but it doesn’t necessarily have to …
Calling the proposed Spyglass plan a “presciption for disaster,” Carl Icahn on Thursday offered to buy another $963 million of MGM’s debt. He already owns around $500 million of it, so the sum would make him one of MGM’s largest creditors – with a stake of around 37%. Pending the offer, he would then be in a good position to approve a merger between Lionsgate and the studio, one he now supports. Some of MGM’s creditors are pushing hard for that prepackaged bankruptcy plan that would instead see Spyglass’ Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum come in and run the studio. As a condition of his offer, Icahn said anyone selling to him must vote against the Spyglass plan; a vote is scheduled for Oct. 29. Icahn also stated on Thursday: “This is the critical decision point for MGM lenders, yet we are being rushed into an extraordinary Prepackaged Plan with limited information and input, on a “hurry up basis” that frustrates any dissent. I hope to defeat this “rush to judgment.”
MGM creditors will be asked to approve a restructuring and pre-packaged bankruptcy plan for the studio within the next week or two, Bloomberg reports. This follows Spyglass chiefs Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber’s signing non-binding letters of intent on Wednesday to become MGM co-chairmen/CEOs. So this next step of a pre-packaged bankruptcy proceeding has been expected for months. It would convert debt to equity and remove the $4 billion debt which has crippled the studio so that it can start generating films again. According to Bloomberg, Birnbaum and Barber would receive 5% of the merged company for their film library, valued at $100M.