MGM pushes back deadline on bids

Assets on block include 'Hobbit,' James Bond

The long-running drama over the fate of MGM will last a little longer.

The studio pushed back the deadline for binding offers until at least today as Friday’s deadline came and went without any comment from MGM or the three most likely bidders — Access Industries, Lionsgate and Time Warner.

Several people familiar with the situation said MGM had indicated it was extending the deadline, with Time Warner believed to have held off on making a final decision. Lionsgate, which saw a hostile takeover bid by Carl Icahn emerge Friday, was still viewed as a likely bidder for MGM — probably at the low range of expectations.

With values declining in DVD revenues, any bids are expected to come in under $2 billion. The assets include rights to the James Bond and “Hobbit” franchises, a 4,000-title library and the MGM and United Artists logos and current TV and film operations.

Should the bids not satisfy MGM and its debtholders, the Lion could attempt a recapitalization through investment bank Qualia Capital with a cash infusion and a debt-to-equity transaction that would allow MGM to remain in business as a stand-alone entity.

MGM put the studio up for sale in November and received half a dozen nonbinding offers in January.

Since turnaround specialist Stephen Cooper came on board as chairman, the debt holders have agreed three times to hold off on receiving debt payments, with the most recent extension going to March 31. MGM’s facing repayment of its $250 million revolving credit line in early April and a $1 billion payment on its $3.7 billion debt in July 2011.

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