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MGM Studios 'not for sale' despite high debt

August 26, 2008|From the Associated Press

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. said Monday it was "not for sale" after BusinessWeek magazine said MGM's owners wanted to sell the movie company for $5.2 billion.

The studio was taken private for nearly $5 billion in 2005 by Providence Equity Partners, TPG, Sony Corp. of America and Comcast Corp.

The company said its owners were committed to growing the studio and denied there was an asking price.

MGM spokesman Jeff Pryor did say, however, that the studio had retained Goldman Sachs & Co. to enhance its long-term capital structure, primarily because $3.7 billion in debt must be repaid in 2012.

That debt begins amortizing in 2011, which means the amount owed will begin to increase, he said.

"Goldman was brought in to look at strategic alternatives at how we're going to deal with the debt," Pryor said. "It's all about deleveraging."

The studio has been paying interest on the debt but has not paid down the principal.

Last year, it made $558 million from its 4,000-title film library, but has yet to deliver a big hit.

The studio's United Artists subsidiary, run by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, flopped on its first effort with last year's political thriller "Lions for Lambs," which is estimated to have lost about $30 million.

UA's second release, "Valkyrie," starring Cruise as a Nazi army officer executed after a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler, has been delayed several times and is now scheduled for Dec. 26.

Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, who bought and sold the studio several times over the years, reportedly offered $3 billion for it through his Tracinda Corp. but the offer was dismissed.

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