Bank closes Ladd account

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer owner Credit Lyonnais reportedly will pay ousted chief Alan Ladd Jr. $ 10 million to quietly walk away from the studio.

While the French bank and MGM’s top brass refused to disclose settlement terms or the amount, the studio did say Ladd would not sue for wrongful termination. Such a suit was expected since Ladd was replaced by Frank Mancuso as MGM/UA chairman (Daily Variety, July 26).

Ladd could not be reached for comment.

However, one high-ranking source noted that the threat of litigation apparently was enough to boost the settlement amount: The payout of Ladd’s three-year contract, with all of its bonuses and options, would have actually totalled about $ 5.25 million. His annual salary alone was $ 2.5 million.

All parties publicly cast the resolution as “amicable.” But some MGM sources said the bank was concerned over what Ladd may reveal publicly about the bank’s financial dealings or any other privileged matters concerning the studio.

Other top executives from Ladd’s regime are expected to be pushed out next week, including MGM president Charles Meeker, studio sources said Thursday. CL officials refused comment on the speculated firings.

CL booted Ladd from the chairman and chief executive posts July 25, reportedly after a heated meeting with bank execs at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. While details of that meeting have remained unclear, the discussion centered around Mancuso retaining full control over distribution/and marketing of both MGM and a revamped United Artists.

Mancuso, who ankled as Paramount studio chief in 1991, was brought aboard by CL, originally to rejuvenate MGM’s suffering marketing and distribution programs. When negotiations with Ladd over his role vis-a-vis Mancuso hit a snag , the bank chose Mancuso to run the whole operation.

Mancuso’s deal was brokered by Creative Artists Agency chairman Michael Ovitz , although it was Ladd, ironically, who suggested CL bring Mancuso aboard two years ago when the bank was trying to wrest control from former MGM owner Giancarlo Parretti in a Delaware court.

Parretti brought Ladd aboard as the studio chief when he acquired MGM in the highly leveraged $ 1.3 billion buyout in November 1990. The bulk of that cash came from CL.

While the bank kicked Parretti out in early ’92, it kept Ladd aboard, fearing his exit would end MGM’s link to the creative community and prompt Ladd loyalists to exit the studio as well.

But after two years of troubled finances and some underperforming films, CL had a change of heart with Ladd as well.

Ladd reportedly has had discussions with three studios about re-establishing the Ladd Co. and raising the indie’s shingle on their lot. However, it’s doubtful any studio would replicate Ladd’s original deal, which gave him the right to greenlight any film he wanted.

Two of those three reported contenders are Paramount Pictures and MGM. Warner Bros. has also been rumored. None of the three has copped to ongoing discussions.

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