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MGM in need of sixth debt extension

Studio asks lenders for more time on $3.7 billion debt

MGM, beset by its massive $3.7 billion debt load, has asked its lenders for a sixth extension on its debt payments.

Studio had no comment, but knowledgeable sources said that MGM’s request was made to its approximately 140 creditors on Thursday — six days before the existing extension expires.

The move has been expected, although the Lion hasn’t issued a formal statement since May 13, when it obtained a fifth extension.

MGM put itself up for sale in November and drew three formal bids, although offers from Access Industries and Lionsgate were later withdrawn. Time Warner’s offer came in well short of MGM’s $2 billion target. During recent weeks, MGM is believed to have met informally with top execs from Lions-gate, Spyglass Entertainment and Summit Entertainment as possible partners that could run the studio and bring in production funds.

Lionsgate is in the midst of an intense battle for control of the company with Carl Icahn, but Icahn hasn’t completely dismissed the notion of an MGM deal.

MGM’s assets include the James Bond franchise and a half stake in “The Hobbit” films, its name and logo, the United Artists operations, a library with more than 4,000 titles and a bare-bones film and TV operation.

MGM is still planning to release a remake of “Red Dawn” in November and 3D pic “Cabin in the Woods” in January.

Peter Jackson has been in talks to take over as director for the two “Hobbit” films in the wake of Guillermo del Toro’s departure. Co-financer has denied del Toro’s assertion that the delays in getting a “Hobbit” greenlight were due to a lack of a resolution to MGM’s ownership situation.

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