With Sony apparently unable to construct a final offer for MGM, it’s looking increasingly likely that Time Warner will swoop in and grab the prize.
Bagging the Lion would give Time Warner a nice little bonus — worldwide theatrical and television rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” What a sweet addition to New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings” franchise. Hey Peter Jackson, what are your plans after “King Kong”?
The conglom’s deal is cleaner — one buyer offering Time Warner stock — and more tax-efficient. It would be chairman-CEO Richard Parsons’ first major acquisition after a string of asset sales to cut debt.
Sony Corp. chairman Nobuyuki Idei, speaking at an event in Korea Thursday, acknowledged “some complications” in the Japanese giant’s merger talks with MGM. Reuters quoted Idei as saying, “It’s up to the MGM management now.”
The statements, which one insider ascribed to a “lost in translation” effect, caused a mild tizzy at both companies, which are still talking — particularly since the holdup isn’t on the MGM side at all, but still resides at Sony. The conglom and its two equity partners, Texas Pacific and Providence Equity, are struggling to get onto the same page. Since Sony isn’t the one putting up the cash, it can’t control the process.