Fired MGM CEO explores making a bid for the studio

Gary Barber, former MGM chief

Gary Barber, ousted earlier this year as CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is looking into a bid to acquire MGM, Reuters reported, citing five people “familiar with the matter.”

Here’s a key excerpt from the Reuters story:

MGM could be worth more than $5 billion including debt, and it is far from certain that Barber can raise the funds for a bid, the sources said. His potential bid, however, is aimed at convincing the hedge funds that own and control MGM to explore a sale, the sources added.

Barber owns about 9 percent of MGM through stock options after serving as its CEO between 2010 and 2018, according to the sources. He was let go abruptly in March from MGM after signing a five-year extension to his contract, according to the sources. MGM at the time did not give a reason for his departure.

Why 007 fans should care: MGM is the home studio of 007 films and it controls the franchise along with Eon Productions and its parent company, Danjaq.

In 2016, MGM explored a possible sale to Chinese buyers, The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2017. More recently, The Hollywood Reporter said in April that MGM was again looking into a sale, with its 007 rights a major selling point.

Potential Bond 25 impact: A change in MGM ownership may well affect the announced November 2019 release date for Bond 25. There is no announced distributor for the project.

Background: Barber became co-CEO of MGM in 2010 as it exited from bankruptcy. He eventually was the sole CEO.

MGM exited bankruptcy without a distribution operation. As a result it negotiated distribution deals with other studios. Sony Pictures distributed the last four 007 films (a relationship that began before the MGM bankruptcy).

MGM last year, while Barber was CEO, announced a joint venture with Annapurna Pictures that would release each other’s movies in the United States. But Bond 25 was not part of the deal.

What does this mean? Bond 25 remains a pawn of a chessboard controlled by various business interests.

Amusing trivia: Ian Fleming worked for Reuters in the 1930s.

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