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October 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The mating of the lions has begun again — this time in earnest, it would appear. Lions Gate Entertainment, which operates the Lionsgate “mini-major,” has formally proposed a merger with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the home of Leo the Lion, under terms similar to those offered by Spyglass Entertainment — except in one important respect. Under each plan, MGM’s lenders would convert their debt into equity but under the Spyglass plan their combined stake would be worth 95 percent of the company, while under the Lions Gate plan it would be worth 55 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the offer. The proposal has the backing of activist investor Carl Icahn, who now owns a 33-percent stake in Lions Gate and has rapidly been buying nearly a half billion dollars worth of MGM’s debt. Icahn, who had previously opposed Lions Gate’s earlier offer to MGM debt holders, issued a statement on Tuesday saying, “We believe that this combination of Lions Gate and MGM would enhance value for all constituencies.” In an interview with Reuters, Richard Dorfman, managing director of the investment firm Richard Alan Inc, which holds Lions Gate shares said that he believes the Lions Gate offer “would work better than the Spyglass deal. You wind up with a much larger entity, more liquidity, more heft and all the benefits that come with the scale they’d achieve.”