Orion-MGM merger puts CEO White out

President and CEO of Orion Pictures Len White said Thursday that with the completion of the merger of Orion and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Inc. he is stepping down from his post effective today.

White will stay on the board of John Kluge’s Metromedia Intl. Group, but has plans to launch an entertainment-related venture in the coming months.

White, who entered the video business in 1982, joined Orion in 1987 and spearheaded the creation of the company’s homevid division. In the wake of Orion’s bankruptcy in 1992, White took over as top exec. He characterized his decade with Orion as “five pleasant and five very challenging years.”

‘Sensitive and generous’

Regarding Orion’s new owners — who have handed out more than 100 pinkslips, along with six months of severance pay in a downsizing effort — White said, “I have been deeply involved with the way they treated the employees. They have been sensitive and generous.”

White is taking a healthy settlement from MGM to close out the 3-1/2 years left on his contract.

Separately, Orion senior exec VP and general counsel John Hester has been retained by MGM with the additional title of Orion chief operating officer.

Hester, along with just more than 100 employees out of the original 260, remain at Orion’s Century City offices. The largely transitional staff is mainly in the homevid, finance and legal departments.

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