Identities of candidates remain anonymous as studio forges ahead

MGM has invited a half dozen bidders to continue participating in the studio’s process of working out a sale or restructuring.

The studio indicated that it’s nowhere near concluding those efforts, which include allowing qualified bidders the opportunity to go over MGM’s internal financials. A spokeswoman said the second round should take several more weeks for due diligence.

MGM had no comment about the offers or the identity of bidders. People with knowedge of the situation said bidders include Time Warner and Lionsgate, but added that News Corp. is not participating yet in the second round after making a first-round offer involving a restructuring of the Lion’s $3.7 billion debt.

With $5 billion in cash remaining from the sale of its cable systems, Time Warner’s been viewed as a likely bidder since MGM put itself up for sale in November.

MGM received two more months of exemption from debt payments on Jan. 29 as lenders agreed to extend the “forbearance” period on interest payments on its debts until March 31.

The studio released a single film, a remake of “Fame,” in the past year. Its next film, “Hot Tub Time Machine,” opens March 26.

MGM is 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. Studio was taken private five years ago by a consortium that included Sony, Providence Equity, TPG Capital, Comcast, DLJ Merchant and Quadrangle.

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